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Screening for PTSD Among Detained Adolescents: Implications of the Changes in the DSM-5

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2017
8 pages
This study compared posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) screening rates using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev., DSM–IV–TR; APA, 2013) compared with DSM–5 criteria in a group of detained adolescents.
Screening for PTSD is highly relevant for youth involved in the juvenile justice system given their high rates of trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress symptoms; however, to date, no studies have investigated the implications of the recent revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (5th ed., DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013) diagnostic criteria for PTSD for screening in this population. In the current study, youth completed measures of lifetime trauma exposure and past-month posttraumatic stress symptoms. Results indicate that just over 95 percent of youth in the sample reported exposure to at least one type of traumatic event. Approximately 19.60 percent of the sample screened positive for PTSD according to the DSM–5 compared to 17.70 percent according to the DSM–IV–TR. Girls were more likely than boys to screen positive for PTSD according to the DSM–IV–TR compared to the DSM–5. The study concludes that the main factors accounting for the differences in screening rates across the versions of PTSD criteria involved the removal of Criterion A2 from the DSM–5, the separation of avoidance symptoms (Criterion C) into their own cluster, the addition of a cluster involving negative alterations in cognitions and mood (Criterion D), and revisions to the cluster of arousal symptoms (Criterion E). Future research should continue to investigate gender differences in PTSD symptoms in youth and consider the implications of these diagnostic changes for the accurate diagnosis and referral to treatment of adolescents who demonstrate posttraumatic stress reactions. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017