The Children's Revised Impact of Event Scale (CRIES) is a brief child-friendly measure designed to screen children at risk for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It has good face and construct validity, a stable factor structure, correlates well with other indices of distress, and has been used to screen very large samples of at-risk-children following a wide range of traumatic events. However, few studies have examined the scale's validity against a structured diagnostic interview based on the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD. In the present study, the CRIES and the PTSD section of the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule-Child and Parent Version (ADIS-CP) were administered to a sample of children and adolescents (n=63) recruited from hospital accident and emergency rooms and the validity of the CRIES as a screening tool evaluated. Cutoff scores were chosen from this sample with a low base-rate of PTSD (11.1%) to maximize sensitivity and minimize the likelihood that children with a diagnosis of PTSD would fail to be identified. Cutoff scores were then cross-validated in a sample of 52 clinically referred children who had a high base-rate of PTSD (67.3%). A cutoff score of 30 on the CRIES-13 and a cutoff score of 17 on the CRIES-8 maximized sensitivity and specificity, minimized the rate of false negatives, and correctly classified 75–83% of the children in the two samples. The CRIES-8 (which lacks any arousal items) worked as efficiently as the CRIES-13 (which includes arousal items) in correctly classifying children with and without PTSD. Results are discussed in light of the current literature and of the need for further development of effective screens for children at-risk of developing PTSD.
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