A PTSD Screen for Forensic Populations [2018]

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been observed in a sizable proportion of the U.S. adult correctional population. Jail administrators must pay particularly close attention to inmates with PTSD symptoms, considering these facilities serve as the gateway to the criminal justice system and inmates with PTSD may pose a risk to themselves, other inmates, and staff. The reality of conducting behavioral health assessments in a jail environment is wrought with significant challenges, including limited time. The current study examined prior research on PTSD screening tools to establish an empirical basis for a practical screen to be used among adults recently booked into local jails. Data from a random sample of 283 adults assessed specificity and sensitivity rates of different combinations of criteria. Results indicated a two-item screen achieved an 86.4% sensitivity rate as well as an 80.4% specificity rate. This evidence demonstrates a practical and clinically relevant approach to conducting PTSD screens among adult jail inmates.

Kaitlin Guston, Elizabeth Combs, Albert Kopak, Alyssa Raggio, Norman Hoffmann
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, June 17, 2018