A multi-method and multi-informant approach to assessing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children

Bradley R. Grant, Kerry O’Loughlin, Hannah M. Holbrook, Robert R. Althoff, Catherine Kearney, Francheska Perepletchikova, Damion J. Grasso, James J. Hudziak, Joan Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Trauma exposure is highly prevalent among children globally, and is associated with elevated rates of PTSD. The goal of this study was to systematically evaluate the effects of multiple informants and multiple screening measures on the identification of specific PTSD symptoms and rates of PTSD diagnoses. Participants in this study included 350 maltreated children from two cohorts, one recruited from Connecticut (n = 130), and the other from Vermont (n = 220). Both cohorts completed the Screen for Child Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) before a PTSD self-report measure. The KSADS psychiatric interview was also completed with the Connecticut cohort, with best-estimate ratings generated using parent and child interview, child self-report, and teacher questionnaire data. In addition to the SCARED and PTSD self-report scale, parents of the Vermont cohort completed the Child Behavioural Checklist. Significant differences emerged between parent and child report of sleep, nightmares, concentration, and irritability problems, suggesting the need for multiple informants in PTSD screening. Children also under-reported nightmares when asked in the context of a trauma-specific screening tool. As child trauma is associated with a broad range of psychiatric sequelae, comprehensive assessment using both general symptomatology and trauma-specific measures is recommended, since children often shut down when completing trauma measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-220
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


  • DSM
  • ICD
  • PTSD
  • RDoC
  • multi-informant assessments
  • multi-method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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