Obstetrics & Gynecology

Skip Navigation LinksHome > October 2004 - Volume 104 - Issue 4 > A Brief Screening Instrument to Detect Posttraumatic Stress...
Obstetrics & Gynecology:
doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000140683.43272.85
Original Research

A Brief Screening Instrument to Detect Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Outpatient Gynecology

Meltzer-Brody, Samantha MD, MPH*; Hartmann, Katherine MD, PhD†§; Miller, William C. MD, PhD, MPH‡§; Scott, Jewel*; Garrett, Joanne PhD‡; Davidson, Jonathan MD¶

Collapse Box


OBJECTIVE: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious anxiety disorder triggered by the experience of trauma. One in 4 individuals exposed to trauma will develop PTSD. Victims of trauma are frequent users of health care, but screening is rarely done and most sequelae remain undetected. Our objectives were 1) to document the prevalence of a trauma history among women seeking routine gynecologic care and 2) to evaluate a 4-item screening instrument for PTSD for triaging women with a trauma history for further evaluation.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of women presenting to the University of North Carolina outpatient gynecology clinic for an annual examination. Written surveys included medical history and health status, trauma history (including type), and PTSD symptoms using the screening instrument. Patients with trauma who agreed to further participation received a structured clinical interview to diagnose PTSD.

RESULTS: Seventy-six percent of patients (N = 292) completed the survey, and 88 (30%) reported a history of 1 or more traumatic event or events. Thirty-two of the 88 completed the psychiatric assessment, and 25 of 32 (78%) met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition criteria for PTSD. Mean age was 34 years, 49% were African American, and 46% were unmarried. Compared with the structured clinical interview, the screening instrument performed with a sensitivity of 72% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.51–0.88) and a specificity of 71% (95% CI 0.29–0.96), corresponding to a positive likelihood ratio of 2.52 (95% CI 0.76–8.34) and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.39 (95% CI 0.18–0.86).

CONCLUSION: Trauma was common in this population. Including a screening instrument for trauma and PTSD on clinic intake surveys has promise for use as a triage tool. Use of such an instrument could meaningfully increase detection of PTSD among women receiving routine preventive care.


© 2004 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.



Looking for ABOG articles? Visit our ABOG MOC II collection. The selected Green Journal articles are free through the end of the calendar year.


If you are an ACOG Fellow and have not logged in or registered to Obstetrics & Gynecology, please follow these step-by-step instructions to access journal content with your member subscription.

Article Tools


Article Level Metrics