Development and validation of a brief trauma screening measure for children: The Child Trauma Screen

Jason M. Lang, Christian M. Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Objective: Childhood exposure to trauma, including violence and abuse, is a major public health concern that has resulted in increased efforts to promote trauma-informed child-serving systems. Trauma screening is an important component of such trauma-informed systems, yet widespread use of trauma screening is rare in part due to the lack of brief, validated trauma screening measures for children. We describe development and validation of the Child Trauma Screen (CTS), a 10-item screening measure of trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms for children consistent with the DSM-5 definition of PTSD. Method: Study 1 describes measure development incorporating analysis to derive items based on existing measures from 1,065 children and caregivers together with stakeholder input to finalize item selection. Study 2 describes validation of the CTS with a clinical sample of 74 children and their caregivers. Results: Results support the CTS as an empirically derived, reliable measure to screen children for trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms with strong convergent, divergent, and criterion validity. Conclusion: The CTS is a promising measure for rapidly and reliably screening children for trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms. Future research is needed to confirm validation and to examine feasibility and utility of its use across various child-serving systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-398
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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