Topic: Violence and abuse

International development and validation of the Child and Adolescent Trauma Screening Questionnaire (CATS)

Validation of the Child and Adolescent Trauma Screening Questionnaire (CATS)

2014 This project has been completed 2016

Project Members

Main objective

Screening children and adolescents for their trauma history and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) is recommended to identify the ones needing trauma-focused interventions and to evaluate treatment outcomes. Most of the available child trauma questionnaires are developed in English speaking countries based on DSM-III-R or DSM-IV criteria of PTSD. For some of these instruments, subsequent translations were performed. However, often this translation was not complying with the recommended standards of independent forward-backward translations and validation of questionnaires. Thus, the psychometric properties of translated versions are sometimes unknown, limiting its usefulness in research and clinical routine. Future international research in the child trauma field would benefit from measures that are parallel developed and validated into different languages. By such a procedure, internationally comparable standards of measurement, based on the same construct would be achieved.

With the revision of the classification systems for mental disorders, DSM and ICD chapter F, the diagnostic criteria of PTSD have been modified, based on the emerging evidence of research within the past two decades. Whereas the DSM-5 now defines PTSS grouped in four clusters for ages 6 to adulthood and 15 PTSS for PTSD in preschool children, the authors of ICD-11 consider to restrict the PTSD diagnosis on 6 core symptoms in three clusters, and to add a new diagnosis complex PTSD. To implement the new diagnostic criteria, existing measures of PTSS have to be revised. The overall objective of this project is to use the current window of opportunity, after the release of DSM-5 and during the release of ICD-11 to:

  • Develop an internationally validated screening questionnaire for PTSS in children and adolescents in different language versions (American English, British English, German, Norwegian, Dutch, etc.) that cover DSM-5 criteria of PTSD
  • Provide a PTSS-instrument that is developmentally appropriate for screening young children.
  • Provide a parallel caregiver-report version for children and adolescents 7-17
  • Develop a short form of the measure according to the proposed ICD-11 diagnostic criteria
  • Provide open access to the measure, in order to allow its implementation into clinical practice, outside of funded research.


Sachser, C., Berliner, L., Holt, T., Jensen, T. K., Jungbluth, N., Risch, E., . . . Goldbeck, L. et al. (2017). International development and psychometric properties of the Child and Adolescent Trauma Screen (CATS). Journal of Affective Disorders, 210, 189-195. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.040