PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) and PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 Weekly (PCL-5 Weekly)
The PCL-5 and PCL-5 Weekly are 20-item self-report measures that assess the 20 DSM-5 symptoms of PTSD. The measures have a variety of purposes, including:
- Monitoring symptom change during and after treatment
- Screening individuals for PTSD
- Making a provisional PTSD diagnosis
The PCL-5 and PCL-5 Weekly are very similar. The main difference is the PCL-5 asks about the last month, while the PCL-5 Weekly asks about the last week.
The PCL-5 is a self-report measure that can be completed by patients in a waiting room prior to a session or by participants as part of a research study. It takes approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The PCL-5 can be administered in one of three formats:
- Without Criterion A (brief instructions and items only), which is appropriate when trauma exposure is measured by some other method
- With a brief Criterion A assessment
- With the revised Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5) and extended Criterion A assessment
Interpretation of the PCL-5 should be made by a clinician. The PCL-5 can be scored in different ways:
PCL-5 can be scored in different ways:
- A total symptom severity score (range - 0-80) can be obtained by summing the scores for each of the 20 items.
- DSM-5 symptom cluster severity scores can be obtained by summing the scores for the items within a given cluster, i.e., cluster B (items 1-5), cluster C (items 6-7), cluster D (items 8-14), and cluster E (items 15-20).
- A provisional PTSD diagnosis can be made by treating each item rated as 2 = "Moderately" or higher as a symptom endorsed, then following the DSM-5 diagnostic rule which requires at least: 1 B item (questions 1-5), 1 C item (questions 6-7), 2 D items (questions 8-14), 2 E items (questions 15-20).
- Preliminary validation work is sufficient to make initial cut-point score suggestions, but this information may be subject to change. A PCL-5 cut-point score of 33 appears to be a reasonable value to propose until further psychometric work is available.
Weathers, F.W., Litz, B.T., Keane, T.M., Palmieri, P.A., Marx, B.P., & Schnurr, P.P. (2013). The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Scale available from the National Center for PTSD at www.ptsd.va.gov.