The Influence of Different Criteria for Establishing Optimal Cutoff Scores on Performance of Two Self-Report Measures for Warzone PTSD

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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been regarded as a signature injury of war and elevated to one of the major behavioral health problems faced by military service members and veterans deployed to warzones. In PTSD diagnosis, self-report measures have often been used with a cutoff score to identify those with an elevated likelihood of having PTSD prior to conducting a second-tier diagnostic interview. With an attempt to guide the selection of cutoffs in self-report PTSD measures for various purposes, this study examined how five common criteria for establishing an optimal cutoff influenced the performance of self-report measures for warzone PTSD in relation to the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM–5) and whether the influence differed for the PTSD Checklist for DSM–5 and the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related PTSD. Using a probability sample of Vietnam theater veterans in the National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study, results showed that in both self-report measures, the Youden Index criterion yielded the optimal cutoff that led to better test performance.

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