How to use the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) self-administered questionnaire


Explain how you can use the three components of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) self-administered questionnaire found in our template directory to screen for posttraumatic stress disorder in your clients. 

What is the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) self-administered questionnaire?

The PCL-5 is a self-administered assessment that calculates a score upon completion and can be used by qualified professionals to help diagnose, monitor, and measure the severity of PTSD. The assessment can be administered in three parts, each part building on the one before. 

PCL-5 without Criterion A assessment consists of a list of 20 problems that people sometimes have in response to a very stressful experience. Clients are asked to read each problem carefully and then select one of the options to indicate how much they have been bothered by that problem in the past week or month (this weekly or monthly designation can be changed in the form’s settings).

PCL-5 with Criterion A assessment adds five questions about a stressful experience. Examples of what might constitute a stressful experience are: a serious accident; fire; disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake; physical or sexual attack or abuse; war; homicide; or suicide. 

PCL-5 with extended Criterion A assessment and Life Events Checklist (LEC-5) can be added in addition to an extended Criterion A assessment. The LEC-5 consists of a list of 17 stressful things that sometimes happen to people.

Using our template, you can adjust the settings so all the parts are viewable or only one or two.

How to adjust the PCL-5 settings

You can change between the different versions of the PCL-5 depending on the needs of your clients. You can also change the format to prompt your client to answer the questions by how they’ve felt in either the past week or month

Here are the steps to changing the version and format:

  1. Find and open the PCL-5 in our template directory
  2. Hover your mouse over the questionnaire
  3. Click to edit
  4. You can adjust the formats under Timeframe and Format


Next steps: 

You can change the versions and format of your PCL-5 as often as needed. However, if you want to use multiple versions at the same time, you may need to add additional forms to your account, depending on your plan. 

Try out the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) template

If you would like more information about the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), read our blog post New PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) calculated form.

If you need extra help with using this form, Customer Care is always happy to assist.

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