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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Psychiatry 1/2018

Validation of the posttraumatic stress disorder checklist – 5 (PCL-5) in a primary care population with high HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe

BMC Psychiatry > Ausgabe 1/2018
Ruth Verhey, Dixon Chibanda, Lorna Gibson, Jonathan Brakarsh, Soraya Seedat



There is a dearth of validated tools measuring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in low and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We validated the Shona version of the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) in a primary health care clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe.


Adults aged 18 and above attending the clinic were enrolled over a two-week period in June 2016. After obtaining written consent, trained research assistants administered the tool to eligible participants. Study participants were then interviewed independently using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5) as the gold standard by one of five doctors with training in mental health.


A total of 204 participants were assessed. Of these, 91 (44.6%) were HIV positive, 100 (49%) were HIV negative, while 13 (6.4%) did not know their HIV status. PTSD was diagnosed in 40 (19.6%) participants using the gold standard procedure. Using the PCL-5 cut-off of ≥33, sensitivity and specificity were 74.5% (95%CI: 60.4–85.7); 70.6% (95%CI: 62.7–77.7), respectively. The area under the ROC curve was 0.78 (95%CI: 0.72–0.83). The Shona version of the PCL-5 demonstrated good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.92).


The PCL-5 performed well in this population with a high prevalence of HIV. There is need to explore ways of integrating screening tools for PTSD in interventions delivered by lay health workers in low and middle-income countries (LMIC).
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