Validation of the Short Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Rating Interview (expanded version, Sprint-E) as a measure of postdisaster distress and treatment need

Fran H. Norris, PhD, Jessica L. Hamblen, PhD, Lisa M. Brown, PhD, John A. Schinka, PhD


Objective: Professionals and paraprofessionals working in disaster settings need tools to identify persons with mental health needs.To validate the Sprint-E as a measure of postdisaster distress and treatment need, the authors tested (1) the concurrent validity of the measure compared with other measures of distress, (2) the sensitivity and specificity of a “3/7 rule” on the Sprint-E relative to probable PTSD diagnosis, and (3) the hypothesis that Sprint-E scores would be stable in the absence of treatment but would improve in its presence.
Method: In Study 1, data were collected at the point of enrollment from 165 adults participating in a Florida treatment program implemented in response to the 2004 hurricanes. In Study 2, data were collected at points of referral, pretreatment, and intermediate treatment from 128 adults participating in a Baton Rouge Louisiana treatment program implemented in response to the 2005 hurricanes, Katrina and Rita.
Results: The utility of a 3/7 rule for the Sprint-E, with 3 suggesting possible and 7 suggesting probable treatment needs, was supported in Study 1. Tested against the PTSD Checklist, the Sprint-E performed well in ROC analyses (area under the curve _ 0.87); a score of 7 achieved sensitivity of 78 percent and specificity of 79 percent. In Study 2, Sprint-E scores evidenced little change between referral and pretreatment but substantial change between pretreatment and intermediate treatment.
Conclusion: The Sprint-E is useful as an assessment and referral tool in situations where more in-depth assessment is not feasible and mental health services are available.


disaster, PTSD, treatment, assessment, referral

Full Text:



Norris F, Friedman M,Watson P, Byrne C, Diaz E, Kaniasty K: 60,000 Disaster victims speak: Part I, an empirical review of the empirical literature, 1981-2001. Psychiatry. 2002; 65: 207-239.

Davidson J: Surviving disaster: What comes after the trauma? Brit J Psychiatry. 2002; 181: 366-368.

Hamblen J, Gibson L, Mueser K, Norris F: Cognitive behavioral therapy for prolonged disaster distress. J Clin Psychol: In Session. 2006; 62: 1043-1052.

Litz B, Gibson L: Conducting research on mental health interventions. In Ritchie EC, Watson P, Friedman M (eds.): Interventions Following Mass Violence and Disasters: Strategies for Mental Health Practice. New York: Guilford; 2006: 387-404.

National Institute of Mental Health: Mental health and mass violence: evidence based early psychological intervention for victims/ survivors of mass violence. NIH Publication Office No. 02-5138. Washington, DC:U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002.

Wessely S: What mental health professionals should and should not do. In: Neria Y, Gross R, Marshall R, Suzzer E ( eds.): 9/11: Mental Health in the Wake of Terrorist Attacks. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006: 543-569.

Flynn B: Mental health services in large scale disasters: An overview of the Crisis Counseling Program. NCPTSD Clin Q. 1994; 4: 1-4.

Weisler R, Barbee J. Townsend M: Mental health and recovery in the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. JAMA. 2006; 296: 585-588.

Covell N, Essock S, Felton C, Donahue S: Characteristics of Project Liberty clients that predicted referrals to intensive mental health services. Psychiatric Serv. 2006; 57: 1313-1315

Stithman A, Pescosolido B, Cabassa L: Building a model to understand youth service access: The Gateway Provider Model. Ment Health Serv Res. 2004; 6: 189-198.

Connor K, Davidson J: SPRINT: A brief global assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2001; 16: 279-284.

Galea S, Nandi A, Vlahov D: The epidemiology of post-traumatic stress disorder after disasters. Epidem Revs. 2005; 27: 78-91.

Davidson J, Weisler R, Butterfield M, et al.: Mirtazapine vs. placebo in posttraumatic stress disorder: a pilot trial. Biol Psychiatry. 2003; 53: 188-191.

Kim W, Pae C, Chae J, Jun T, Bahk W: The effectiveness of mirtazapine in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder: A 24- week continuation therapy. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2005; 59: 743-747.

Silove D, Bryant R: Rapid assessments of mental health needs after disasters. JAMA. 2006; 296: 576-578.

Bebbington P, Marsden L, Brewin C: The need for psychiatric treatment in the general population: The Camberwell needs for care survey. Psychol Med. 1997; 27: 821-834.

Ezpeleta L, Granero R, de la Osa N, Doménech M, Guillamón N: Perception of need for help and use of mental health services in children and adolescents. Do they share the same predictors? Psychol Spain. 2003; 7: 19-28.

Pincus H, Zarin D, First M: Clinical significance and DSM-IV. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998; 55: 1145-1146.

Meadows G, Burgess P, Fossey E, Harvey C: Perceived need for mental health care: Findings from the Australian national survey of mental health and well-being. Psychol Med. 2002; 30: 645-656.

Nelson C, Park J: The nature and correlates of unmet health care needs in Ontario, Canada. Soc Sci Med. 2005; 62: 2291-2300.

Norris F, Donahue S, Felton C,Watson P, Hamblen J, Marshall R: A psychometric analysis of Project Liberty’s adult enhanced services referral tool. Psychiatric Serv. 2006; 57: 1328-1334.

Southam-Gerow M, Ringeisen H, Sherrill J: Integrating interventions and services research: Progress and prospects. Clin Psychol: Sci Practice. 2006; 13: 1-8.

Centers for Disease Control: Assessment of health-related needs after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, New Orleans Area, Louisiana, October 17-22, 2005. MMWR. 2006; 55: 38-41.

Weathers F, Litz B, Herman D, Huska J, Keane T: The PTSD checklist (PCL): Reliability, validity, and diagnostic utility. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, San Antonio,Texas. October, 1993.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edn.).Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994.

Blanchard E, Jones-Alexander J, Buckley T, Forneris C: Psychometric properties of the PTSD checklist. Behav Res Therapy. 1996; 34: 669-673.

Kahout F, Berkman L, Evan D, Cornoni-Huntley J: Two shorter forms of the CES-D depression symptoms index. J Aging Health. 1993; 5: 179-193.

Matthey S, Petrovski P: The children’s depression inventory: Error in cutoff scores for screening purposes. Psychol Assess. 2002; 14: 146-149.



  • There are currently no refbacks.