International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

ISTSS Sponsors National Screening Program for PTSD Outreach

Posted 1 July 2002 in StressPoints by ISTSS

National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) is an annual outreach event designed to educate the public about depression and related disorders, screen for these disorders and refer those in need to treatment. Because the program incorporates posttraumatic stress disorder screening, ISTSS will be a sponsor this year. NDSD, scheduled for October 10, 2002, is in its twelfth year. It reaches 100,000 people annually and has proved that a national screening event is successful in reaching those with mental health problems who currently aren't in treatment.

Screening for Mental Health (SMH), the nonprofit organization that runs NDSD, sent PTSD questionnaires to NDSD screening facilities after September's terrorist attacks. Sites used the forms and supporting materials in the aftermath to screen for PTSD symptoms and educate the public about acute stress reactions, grief and loss. The screening is not diagnostic, but instead intended to provide people with an opportunity to determine whether their symptoms are consistent with commonly underdiagnosed mental health problems.

Participating screening facilities include private and public psychiatric hospitals, mental health centers, community health centers and colleges. SMH provides registered facilities with materials needed to host a screening event, including the screening forms, brochures, flyers, posters and a procedure manual and publicity guide. The one-page screening form screens for depression, manic depression, PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder. As part of the Primary/Specialty Care Program, NDSD also provides health care clinicians with screening tools and educational materials for use in screening their existing patient base.

Incorporated officially into the program this year is a PTSD screening test, SPRINT-4, an abbreviated version of the Short Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Rating Interview (SPRINT), developed by Jonathan Davidson MD, Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center. In SPRINT-4, Davidson shortened his original 10-question test to four questions, each corresponding to four PTSD symptom clusters (intrusive, avoidance, numbing and hyperarousal). Most PTSD screening instruments require much more time than the SPRINT-4, which takes just minutes to self-administer.

To register for NDSD, a registration form can be downloaded at www.mentalhealthscreening.org/ndsd/ISTSS, or call 781/239-0071.