Psychometrics of a Brief Trauma Symptom Screen for Youth in Residential Care

Patrick M. Tyler, W. Alex Mason, Mary B. Chmelka, Irina Patwardan, Matthew Dobbertin, Kayla Pope, Niraj Shah, Heba Abdel-Rahim, Kimberly Johnson, R. James Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Trauma screening is an important element for providing trauma-informed services to youth in residential care. Unfortunately, lack of time and resources may deter clinicians from conducting trauma screening at intake. This study tested the psychometric properties of the Brief Trauma Symptom Screen for Youth (BTSSY), which could be used during intake into residential care. Participants included 572 youth, ages 10–18 years (M = 14.28 years, SD = 2.31), of whom 58.9% were boys, 78.7% were Caucasian, 51.7% were youth receiving services in residential care, 15.6% were youth with clinical needs, and 32.7% were typically developing youth from the local community. Participants completed the BTSSY; other questionnaires of psychopathology, childhood maltreatment, and symptomology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and diagnostic interviews, which were conducted by licensed psychiatrists. The total BTSSY score had a good composite reliability (CR) of.80 and was valid based on a significant positive correlation, r =.64, with the UCLA PTSD–Reaction Index. The BTSSY score was also fair, area under the curve =.75, at detecting a diagnosis of PTSD from a psychiatrist. Significant group differences in the BTSSY scores were found between youth with a diagnosis of PTSD and the other two groups, with moderate-to-large effect sizes, ds = 0.73–1.22. Preliminary results indicated the BTSSY may be a useful screening tool for identifying youth at residential care intake who may need additional assessment for PTSD. Limitations and implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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