Discrepancies in Parent and Child Assessment of Child's Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms Using the Ptsd Checklist

Date of Graduation

Summer 2000


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

David Richard


Several studies have shown that parents and children do not always agree on the frequency and magnitude of PTSD symptoms experienced by the child after a traumatic event (Earls, Smith, Reich, & Jung, 1988; Handford et al., 1986; Sack, Angell, Kinzie, & Rath, 1986; Sack et al., 1994; Vincent, 1997; Yule & Williams, 1990). In addition, while numerous studies have examined the factor structure of PTSD instruments with adults, relatively few similar studies have been conducted with children and adolescents. As a result, empirical evidence suggesting invariant factor structure between children, adolescents, and adults currently does not exist. We compared parent and adolescent reports of the adolescent's responses to a traumatic event using the PTSD Checklist (PCL; Weathers, Litz, Herman, Huska, & Keane, 1993). While there was some agreement between parents and adolescents at the item level, significant differences were found at the scale and total score level. However, confirmatory factor analysis of both the parent ratings and the adolescent self-reports suggested a two-factor model provided the best fit to the data. Specifically, a two-factor higher order model was the model of best fit. However, a small sample size made conclusions tentative. Implications for PTSD assessment and the DSM-IV conceptualization of PTSD are discussed.

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© Craig A Johnston