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CPSS - Child PTSD Symptom Scale

The Child PTSD Symptom Scale (CPSS) is a child version of the Foa et al. (1997) Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PTDS) for adults. This self-report measure assesses the frequency of all DSM-IV-defined PTSD symptoms and was also designed to assess PTSD diagnosis. The first 17 items measure PTSD symptomatology and yield a total Symptom Severity score. Seven additional items assess daily functioning and functional impairment.




Foa, E. B., Johnson, K. M., Feeny, N. C., & Treadwell, K. R. H.

Foa, E. B., Johnson, K. M., Feeny, N. C., & Treadwell, K. R. H. (2001). The Child PTSD Symptom Scale: A preliminary examination of its psychometric properties. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30(3), 376-384.

Contact Information: 
Domain Assessed: 
Traumatic Stress
Relationships and Attachment
Subcategories of Domains Assessed: 
Post Traumatic Stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Measures of General and Psychosocial Functioning
Age Range: 
Measure Type: 
General Assessment
Measure Format: 


Number of Items: 
Average Time to Complete (min): 
Reporter Type: 
Average Time to Score (min): 
Last two weeks
Response Format: 

Measure has a 17-item PTSD symptom scale and a 7-item scale assessing functional impairment. PTSD Symptoms: 4-point Likert scale 0=Not at all or only at one time; 1=Once in a week or less/once in a while; 3=2 to 4 times a week/half the time; 4=5 or more times a week/almost always. Measure has a 17-item PTSD symptom scale and a 7-item scale assessing functional impairment. PTSD Symptoms: 4-point Likert scale: 0 = Not at all or only at one time 1 = Once in a week or less/once in a while 3 = 2 to 4 times a week/half the time 4 = 5 or more times a week/almost always Functional Impairment: dichotomous

Materials Needed: 
Sample Items: 
PTSDReexperiencingHaving bad dreams or nightmares.
Daily FunctioningNot AvailableIndicate if problems you rated in Part 1 have gotten in way with . . . fun and hobby activities.
Information Provided: 
Areas of Concern/Risks
Continuous Assessment
Diagnostic Info DSM IV
Dichotomous Assessment
Raw Scores


Notes on Psychometric Norms: 

No norms. Analyses suggest no age effects, but girls report greater total CPSS scores and higher scores on symptom clusters (Foa et al., 2001).

Clinical Cutoffs: 
Clinical Cutoffs Description: 


Internal Consistency
Parallel/Alternate Forms
Construct Validity: 
Validity TypeNot knownNot foundNonclincal SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Sensitive to Change
Intervention Effects
Longitudinal/Maturation Effects
Sensitive to Theoretically Distinct Groups
Factorial Validity
Criterion Validity: 
Not KnownNot FoundNonclinical SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Predictive Validity:
Postdictive Validity:



Pros & Cons/References


1. The CPSS includes all symptoms of PTSD as assessed using the DSM-IV.

2. Because symptoms are assessed using a Likert scale, the measure may be more sensitive to change than are other measures that provide a dichotomous assessment of specific symptoms.

3. The measure assesses functional impairment. Many PTSD measures do not do this.

4. The measure is free and easily available.

5. It is brief.

6. It is easy to administer and to score.

7. The measure has been translated into Spanish and other languages.

8. Randomized trials with ethnically diverse children suggest that the measure can detect change in PTSD symptoms that are due to treatment.


1. The CPSS needs to be examined with larger and more diverse samples in order to examine its generalizability in terms of diverse demographics and trauma exposure.

2. Developmentally inappropriate language, especially with the younger children, may be an issue. The measure is said to be for children aged 8 (grade 3), but the reading level of some items (e.g., having upsetting thoughts or images about the event that came into your head when you didn't want to) has a Flesh-Kincaid grade level of 8.5.

3. Although the measure was designed to allow assessment of a diagnosis of PTSD, specific information is not provided regarding how to use the measure to diagnose children. In addition, more research is needed examining the validity of the CPSS as a diagnostic tool.

4. NOT A CON: More research is needed examining the psychometrics of the different language versions.

Developer of Review: 
Stefanie F. Smith, Ph.D.
Editor of Review: 
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D.
Last Updated: 
Friday, February 14, 2014