Psychometric Properties of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 in Treatment-Seeking Black Veterans.

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Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice & Policy


Objective: Despite widespread use of the posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—fifth edition (PCL-5) across various trauma-exposed populations, little is known about the psychometric properties of the instrument in certain ethnic minority groups with increased risk of trauma exposure, including Black veterans. To this end, the current study examined the internal consistency of the PCL-5, convergent validity using correlations between the PCL-5 and another measure of PTSD, and discriminant validity using correlations between the PCL-5 and other commonly occurring psychiatric symptoms, including depression as well as alcohol and substance misuse. Method: The sample was composed of 327 Black veterans (84% male, Mage = 51.87, SD = 13.72) presenting to a PTSD specialty clinic at a large Veterans Affairs hospital in the Midwest United States to receive psychological services. In addition to a diagnostic interview, veterans were asked to complete a brief battery of self-report questionnaires to assist with diagnostic clarification and treatment planning. Results: The PCL-5 demonstrated excellent internal consistency. Furthermore, the PCL-5 was significantly and positively correlated with PTSD diagnostic status, suggesting evidence of convergent validity. Finally, the PCL-5 was strongly correlated with symptoms of depression and moderately correlated with alcohol and substance misuse. Conclusions: Findings suggest that the PCL-5 is a psychometrically sound measure to assess PTSD symptoms among Black veterans. Considering the brevity of PCL-5 administration, clinicians should consider utilizing this and other psychometric tests in clinical care to reduce disparities in health equity among Black patients. Clinical Impact Statement: The posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—fifth edition (PCL-5), arguably the most widely used self-report assessment of trauma symptoms, was found to be a psychometrically sound measure of PTSD among a sample of Black veterans. Considering the increased rates of PTSD in such populations, these findings are encouraging and extend work in this area to include racial and ethnic minority groups.

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