What is the PTSD Test and How AR MMJ Cards Uses it in the Clinical Setting?

by in Medical Marijuana, Written by Dr. Daniel March 1, 2021

The PTSD Test is a diagnostic screening tool used to quantify the severity of each of the 17 symptoms of PTSD. Each item of the questionnaire is scored on a symptom severity scale of 0 to 4, corresponding to “not at all’ to ‘extremely severe symptoms’.

Additional items are included to assess  further comorbidities and global functional impairment. Patients and clinicians alike should note that this test is merely a screening tool and meant to stratify patients that would have a high likelihood of fitting the complete clinical picture of a PTSD diagnosis.

Like all diagnoses, the patient-reported clinical history must always be combined with the overall impression provided by the clinical interview with the healthcare provider.

A Brief History of the PTSD testing Protocol

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs; in 1989, the United States developed a framework for a comprehensive assessment of PTSD symptoms, to gain an understanding of how to identify, classify, and rate veteran’s symptoms.

US Veteran in Uniform

After it’s launch by the US Department of Veterans Affairs through the National Center for PTSD, the Clinician Administered PTSD scale (CAPS) emerged as the strongest predictor in the PTSD diagnostic toolkit.

It didn’t take long for psychiatrists country wide to adopt CAPS into their clinical setting for PTSD patients from widely arrayed backgrounds. The psychometric power in CAPS lies in the connection of measurable phenomena to subjective symptoms.

What are the 17 symptoms of PTSD?

The 17 symptoms of PTSD that are listed below, are simply some very common, which are evaluated on the PTSD test. These are not all of the symptoms of PTSD a person could experience. PTSD symptoms are board and encompass many things.

  • Vivid flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • Nightmares
  • Intrusive or graphically disturbing memories
  • Panic reactions in response to trigger reminders of trauma (sounds or certain personality traits).
  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the event
  • Avoiding places or situations that remind you of the event
  • Feelings of hopelessness or emotional vulnerability
  • Emotional separation from family and friends
  • Problems forming and nurturing close relationships
  • Pessimistic worldview or negative self-image
  • Lack of interest in formerly pleasurable activities
  • Easily startled or agitated
  • Hypervigilance to danger situations (exit door strategy)
  • Insomnia 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Self-destructive behavior

Although these are the most commonly scored symptoms, by no mean is this list exhaustive of PTSD presentations. Clinical historical context must be elicited to fully grasp the constellation of complaints that comprise the final diagnostic step of PTSD.

How does AR MMJ Cards use the PTSD test to screen our patients?

Woman researching the 17 symptoms of ptsd on an Apple Mac laptop, at an outdoor table of a public place.

As a medical marijuana certification clinic, we come into contact with the full spectrum of PTSD complaints from incidents ranging from mass shooting survivors to victims of unspeakable childhood abuse. The challenge for us was to correlate an objective score with subjective patient histories.

Furthermore, we had to do so in a HIPAA-compliant and cost-effective manner, for both the business and patients. Quality assessment of each submission requires labor force, but forcing patients to pay for this on the front end was not an option for us, even though other companies openly charge for this type of service.

Thankfully, our diligence paid off when we designed our free PTSD test, which integrates the freeform patient narrative and the CAPS score, which can then be reviewed by our medical professionals.

free ptsd test to screen patients

Our modified version of CAPS includes the freeform patient history which mandates detail of time and place associated with the event or series of events causing the current symptoms. 

Later, in our New Patient form, patients are also asked to include current medications, whether or not they smoke cigarettes, and what sort of counseling they have undertaken for their symptoms.

By combining the questionnaire and patient history with the clinical interview, the interviewing clinician has a robust foundation of information to land on the correct diagnosis. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of patients feeling secure that clinicians are active and caring listeners. 

Each patient is unique and deserves a maximum effort of empathy in managing sensitive mental health needs.  After all, the best patient outcomes are achieved when sound science is applied with a healthy dose of sensitivity and encouragement.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of ptsd, and would like to find out if you can qualify for a medical marijuana card due to PTSD, follow this link to take our Free PTSD Test Now!

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