Validation of the UCLA Child Post traumatic stress disorder-reaction index in Zambia

Laura K. Murray, Judith Bass, Elwyn Chomba, Mwiya Imasiku, Donald Thea, Katherine Semrau, Judith A. Cohen, Carrie Lam, Paul Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: Sexual violence against children is a major global health and human rights problem. In order to address this issue there needs to be a better understanding of the issue and the consequences. One major challenge in accomplishing this goal has been a lack of validated child mental health assessments in low-resource countries where the prevalence of sexual violence is high. This paper presents results from a validation study of a trauma-focused mental health assessment tool - the UCLA Post-traumatic Stress Disorder - Reaction Index (PTSD-RI) in Zambia.Methods: The PTSD-RI was adapted through the addition of locally relevant items and validated using local responses to three cross-cultural criterion validity questions. Reliability of the symptoms scale was assessed using Cronbach alpha analyses. Discriminant validity was assessed comparing mean scale scores of cases and non-cases. Concurrent validity was assessed comparing mean scale scores to a traumatic experience index. Sensitivity and specificity analyses were run using receiver operating curves.Results: Analysis of data from 352 youth attending a clinic specializing in sexual abuse showed that this adapted PTSD-RI demonstrated good reliability, with Cronbach alpha scores greater than .90 on all the evaluated scales. The symptom scales were able to statistically significantly discriminate between locally identified cases and non-cases, and higher symptom scale scores were associated with increased numbers of trauma exposures which is an indication of concurrent validity. Sensitivity and specificity analyses resulted in an adequate area under the curve, indicating that this tool was appropriate for case definition.Conclusions: This study has shown that validating mental health assessment tools in a low-resource country is feasible, and that by taking the time to adapt a measure to the local context, a useful and valid Zambian version of the PTSD-RI was developed to detect traumatic stress among youth. This valid tool can now be used to appropriately measure treatment effectiveness, and more effectively and efficiently triage youth to appropriate services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number24
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
StatePublished - Sep 24 2011


  • Assessment validation
  • Children
  • Low resource country
  • Mental health
  • Ptsd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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