21 Jun 2022


Analysis of the Davidson Trauma Scale

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The Davidson Trauma Scale (DTS) is a tool or instrument which conducts the assessment of 17 different factors of mental illness identified concerning PTSD (Davidson et al., 1997). Frequent and severity scores may be evaluated through the test. This test is utilized to determine the degree to which existing symptoms correlate to the criteria for PTSD by showing that deviant behavior is a symptom of dysfunction within an individual. The DTS is a test that has 17 items and structured on self-administration which is utilized for initially evaluating mental disorders in trauma victims, assessing whether the treatments given are working, and predicting the success of treatments. The assessment was structured by Davidson et al. (1997), with the aim of evaluating how severe and frequent post-traumatic stress disorder is in individuals. How severe and frequent these symptoms are is measured in three separate clusters, which include intrusion, avoidance, and hyper-arousal. This test is conducted on respondents by their clinician or the healthcare professional they are in contact with. Respondents are asked to make an identification of the trauma that is most disturbing to them. They are also asked to rate, in the last seven days, the level of trouble that they have experienced with the symptom. 

PTSD is a mental disorder which results from having a direct or indirect experience with highly stressful events. These traumatic events are then re-experienced by varying perceptions of the individual concerning their experiences (Meltzer-Brody et al., 1999). This creates a high level of intense distress linked to the continual avoidance of experienced responses. These responses typically occur when an individual has exposure to different cues around them, which are symbolic of the trauma component. Some PTSD symptoms are linked to the inability to sleep, being irritable or being startled. These symptoms do not always occur immediately but usually happen some period after the event. This delay in response creates a need for the assessment of these symptoms and how severe they may be in patients. The DTS was structured to fill these needs and help healthcare professionals in measuring the degree of PTSD in their patients. 

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The Davidson Trauma Scale is administered to all individuals that have had a history of significant trauma (Davidson et al., 1997). This test is administered to individuals that have experienced all forms of trauma as it is not specific to one form of trauma. The test has been administered in a large number of populations, with an inclusion of both genders. The test has undergone translation into several different languages. An example of some of the populations that test has been used for includes rape victims, veterans, hurricane victims, and other individuals that have been exposed to miscellaneous traumas. 

The scale is utilized in all major multicenter pharmacotherapy trials that are identified by the authors. To administer this test, clinicians and researchers are expected to have the necessary academic qualifications or have the experience and knowledge in utilizing assessment instruments of proper training in using the DTS. These requirements may not be necessary for professionals given the capability of administering these tests. 

The test measures 17 PTSD symptoms that are found within the DSM-IV. The administration is fast and takes 10 minutes per individual (Meltzer-Brody et al., 1999). All items on the test ae evaluated on a scale of 0-4, which includes an assessment of the severity as well as the frequency. Based on this, the maximum score that an individual can get is 136. According to separate factor analysis, these items can then be categorized into four separate symptoms clusters. The test can be divided into three separate categories on the basis of the DSM-IV criteria. 

For every item within the test, the respondent conducts two assessments which are based on separate extremes. One evaluation is focused on the frequency (the number of items it occurs). The second evaluation is for intensity (which evaluates degree) of the PTSD symptoms that the respondent experiences. For every respondent, the lowest outcome is 0, and the greatest outcome for each respondent is 136 (McDonald et al., 2009). An outcome of more than 40 points is perceived as indicating that the respondent involved may have the mental illness being tested. 

Reliability and Validity 

There have been several sources that indicate that the DTS has a high degree of reliability and validity. In individuals who ae traumatized but are not interested in treatment, the average result on the test is incredibly low and suggested minimal symptoms. The DTS has been identified as having greater reliability and validity (McDonald et al., 2009). The classification of items is conducted in accordance with the criteria for PTSD diagnosis. The reliability and validity of the test are also established on the basis of its sensitivity. The test is popular for its ability to identify low levels of PTSD in its respondents. This has made it highly effective in the treatment of this disorder. 

Advantages and Disadvantages 

The main advantages of the DTS are associated with its structure. The test is made up of self-report measures that can be easily utilized by clinicians and researchers (McDonald et al., 2009). This makes the test a fast and affordable method for the assessment of symptoms that highlight the presence of a mental disorder. The test has a high level of utility as it identifies the severity and the frequency of the test. Through this, the healthcare professionals involved are able to efficiently conduct their skills to ensure the proper treatment of their patients. The test findings also enable clinicians and researchers to identify the proper treatment protocol for specific patients. Through the results obtained from the DTS, clinicians can also measure the effectiveness of the treatments they assign to patients (Davidson et al., 1997). Through its structure, the test supports not only the identification of PTSD but also its proper treatment. 

One of the test's main disadvantages is that in children and adolescents, the population in which this test is used is limited. This is because the structure and description of this condition are structured on the basis of symptoms in adults. As a majority of the symptoms are subjective and need to be verbally defined by patients, the use of the test in children is challenging. While there have been several recommendations of the different ways in which this test can be administered in children and adolescents, this is highly difficult. The test is still highly reliant on the expressive capability of the children and adolescents involved. PTSD is also at times associated with the experience of other disorders in the patients. There exists a need to assess the disorders that occur in concurrence with PTSD. Due to this, the DTS is highly limited in its capability to evaluate the disorders that may exist in conjunction with the DTS. 


The DTS is a highly effective tool for the measurement of PTSD in respondents. As based on the DSM-IV criteria, the test is structured for the assessment of how severe and frequent the associated symptoms of PTSD are within the respondent. Several studies have established the test as having a high degree of reliability and validity. However, more research should be conducted on how the test can utilized with individuals of a younger age. 


Davidson, J. R., Book, S. W., Colket, J. T., Tupler, L. A., Roth, S., David, D., ... & Davison, R. M. (1997). Assessment of a new self-rating scale for post-traumatic stress disorder.  Psychological medicine 27 (1), 153-160. 

McDonald, S. D., Beckham, J. C., Morey, R. A., & Calhoun, P. S. (2009). The validity and diagnostic efficiency of the Davidson Trauma Scale in military veterans who have served since September 11th, 2001.  Journal of anxiety disorders 23 (2), 247-255. 

Meltzer-Brody, S., Churchill, E., & Davidson, J. R. (1999). Derivation of the SPAN, a brief diagnostic screening test for post-traumatic stress disorder.  Psychiatry Research 88 (1), 63-70. 

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