Screening for Preschool Posttraumatic Stress Disorder with the Child Behavior Checklist

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ObjectiveTo examine the psychometric properties and utility of a Child Behavior Checklist–Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (CBCL–PTSD) Scale to screen for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in traumatized preschool children.MethodData for this study were drawn from a study of young child trauma and consisted of 62 traumatized children, 23 months through 6 years of age. The children’s mothers were interviewed about PTSD symptoms and then completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL).ResultsThe modified CBCL–PTSD correlated highly with the number of PTSD symptoms from the interview (r=0.66). The CBCL–PTSD scale predicted PTSD symptoms above and beyond the internalizing and externalizing scales of the CBCL. A cutoff score of nine on this scale possessed the best sensitivity and specificity in classifying those traumatized children who met diagnostic criteria for PTSD.ConclusionThe modified CBCL–PTSD scale could be a useful cost-effective tool to screen for PTSD in traumatized, preschool-age children.

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