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Diagnostic Accuracy and Acceptability of the Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Screen for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) Among US Veterans.
Bovin MJ, Kimerling R, Weathers FW, Prins A, Marx BP, Post EP, Schnurr PP. Diagnostic Accuracy and Acceptability of the Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Screen for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) Among US Veterans. JAMA Network Open. 2021 Feb 1; 4(2):e2036733.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health disorder that can be effectively treated with empirically based practices. PTSD screening is essential for identifying undetected cases and providing patients with appropriate care.
To determine whether the Primary Care PTSD screen for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) (PC-PTSD-5) is a diagnostically accurate and acceptable measure for use in Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care clinics.
Design, Setting, and Participants:
This cross-sectional, diagnostic accuracy study enrolled participants from May 19, 2017, to September 26, 2018. Participants were recruited from primary care clinics across 2 VA Medical Centers. Session 1 was conducted in person, and session 2 was completed within 30 days via telephone. A consecutive sample of 1594 veterans, aged 18 years or older, who were scheduled for a primary care visit was recruited. Data analysis was performed from March 2019 to August 2020.
In session 1, participants completed a battery of questionnaires. In session 2, a research assistant administered the PC-PTSD-5 to participants, and then a clinician assessor blind to PC-PTSD-5 results conducted a structured diagnostic interview for PTSD.
Main Outcomes and Measures:
The range of PC-PTSD-5 cut points overall and across gender was assessed, and diagnostic performance was evaluated by calculating weighted values.
In total, 495 of 1594 veterans (31%) participated, and 396 completed all measures and were included in the analyses. Participants were demographically similar to the VA primary care population (mean [SD] age, 61.4 [15.5] years; age range, 21-93 years) and were predominantly male (333 participants [84.1%]) and White (296 of 394 participants [75.1%]). The PC-PTSD-5 had high levels of diagnostic accuracy for the overall sample (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC], 0.927; 95% CI, 0.896-0.959), men (AUC, 0.932; 95% CI, 0.894-0.969), and women (AUC, 0.899, 95% CI, 0.824-0.974). A cut point of 4 ideally balanced false negatives and false positives for the overall sample and for men. However, for women, this cut point resulted in high numbers of false negatives (6 veterans [33.3%]). A cut point of 3 fit better for women, despite increasing the number of false positives. Participants rated the PC-PTSD-5 as highly acceptable.
Conclusions and Relevance:
The PC-PTSD-5 is an accurate and acceptable screening tool for use in VA primary care settings. Because performance parameters will change according to sample, clinicians should consider sample characteristics and screening purposes when selecting a cut point.