Will screening for PTSD in primary care improve patients’ quality of life?

Date of Award

Spring 3-29-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Breslin

Second Advisor

Dr. Traci Sims



Purpose: To increase screening for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the primary care setting. Increased identification of PTSD in primary care will result in appropriate referral for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This will improve patients’ quality of life by identifying and decreasing symptoms of PTSD.

Methods: This was a descriptive research study that utilized the PC-PTSD screening tool.

Results: A total of 62 patients aged 20-39 presenting for nonacute primary care appointments were identified over a four-week period. Twenty-five patients agreed to participation and completed the PC-PTSD screening tool. Five patients (8%) had a positive PC-PTSD. These patients were referred for CBT. A follow up email one month later was performed to determine if CBT had been initiated. Eighty percent (80%) of patients with a positive PC-PTSD had completed the first CBT session at time of follow up.

Conclusion: Screening for PTSD in primary care is critical in order to identify patients who are suffering from this condition. Primary care is frequently the first place that patients seek help when having both physical and mental health concerns. Patients are often not forthcoming with their concerns about PTSD and the diagnosis will continue to be missed without proper screening. The PC-PTSD is a valuable tool available to primary care providers for quick yet accurate identification of PTSD. This allows the provider to refer a patient with a positive screen for CBT to ensure proper healing and improvement of symptoms. Annual

PTSD screening at the primary care level will significantly reduce the amount of patients suffering from prolonged PTSD in the future.



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