Developmental and Measurement Implications of Using the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index with College Students

  • Maureen A. AllwoodEmail author


Studies measuring Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms from childhood into adulthood have been hampered by use of different measures across different developmental stages. Use of one measure across age groups would reduce measurement error and strengthen our understanding of the developmental progression of trauma. Thus, this study examined whether the UCLA PTSD Reaction-Index (PTSD-Index), which was developed for use with children and adolescents (aged 7 to 18), could be used with young adults. The utility of the measure was examined among three age groups of college students (17–18, 19–20, and 21–25). Sex differences and race/ethnicity differences were also examined. Findings indicate that the PTSD-Index is internally consistent and reliable when used with college students. Furthermore, the factor structure for the measure is similar for adolescents and for emerging adults. In sum, the PTSD-Index appears to be an appropriate screener for PTSD symptoms among young adults. The findings are relevant for both the DSM-IV and DSM-5 screening measures, and the findings have both research and clinical implications. The findings are particularly important for longitudinal studies that are challenged with addressing developmental progression of PTSD symptoms among participants, while also addressing changes in the PTSD nosology.


Trauma Measurement Adolescents Transitional age youth PTSD-index College students 



This project would not have been possible without the students who contributed their information to this study and the research assistants who contributed their time to data collection. These contributions are greatly appreciated.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Disclosure of Interest

The author has no relevant personal or financial relationships or interests to disclose.

Ethical Approval

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation [institutional and national] and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal JusticeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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