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Childhood Trauma Questionnaire
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- Childhood Trauma Questionnaire
About Scale Name
Childhood Trauma Questionnaire
James W. Pennebaker, along with Mary Main and colleagues
The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) was developed in order to assess the severity of different types of childhood abuse and neglect experienced by individuals. The questionnaire consists of 28 items that cover five different subscales: emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and physical neglect.
The CTQ is designed to be a self-report measure, with respondents rating the frequency of certain experiences during their childhood on a scale from 1 (never true) to 5 (very often true). The scores for each of the subscales are then added together to provide an overall score for childhood trauma severity.
This questionnaire has been widely used in clinical and research settings to help identify individuals who may be at risk for mental health problems related to childhood trauma. It has also been shown to be a reliable and valid tool for assessing childhood trauma across different populations and cultures.
Administration, Scoring and Interpretation
The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) is typically administered as a self-report measure, with respondents completing the questionnaire on their own. The questionnaire consists of 28 items that cover five different subscales: emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and physical neglect.
Respondents are asked to rate the frequency of certain experiences during their childhood on a scale from 1 (never true) to 5 (very often true). For example, items on the emotional abuse subscale include statements such as “People in my family called me things like stupid, lazy or ugly” and “I felt that no one in my family loved me or thought I was important.” Items on the physical abuse subscale include statements such as “I got hit so hard by someone in my family that it left me with bruises or marks” and “Someone in my family threatened to use a knife, gun, or other weapon on me.”
After completing the questionnaire, scores for each of the subscales are added together to provide an overall score for childhood trauma severity. Higher scores indicate greater severity of childhood trauma.
The CTQ has established guidelines for scoring, with specific cutoffs used to identify individuals as having experienced low, moderate, or high levels of childhood trauma. These cutoffs vary depending on the population being assessed (e.g., clinical vs. non-clinical samples).
Reliability and Validity
The Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) has been extensively evaluated for its reliability and validity. Overall, the CTQ has been found to be a reliable and valid tool for measuring childhood trauma experiences across different populations and cultures.
Reliability refers to the consistency and stability of the CTQ scores over time and across different raters. The CTQ has demonstrated good internal consistency, with high Cronbach’s alpha coefficients ranging from .70 to .96 across the five subscales. Test-retest reliability has also been shown to be strong, with correlation coefficients ranging from .77 to .92.
Validity refers to whether the CTQ measures what it is intended to measure. There are several types of validity that have been examined for the CTQ, including content validity, criterion-related validity, and construct validity.
Content validity refers to whether the items on the CTQ adequately represent the construct being measured. The CTQ has undergone extensive item analysis, with factor analysis revealing that the questionnaire items load onto the intended subscales.
Criterion-related validity refers to whether the CTQ scores are related to other measures of childhood trauma or related constructs. The CTQ has been found to be significantly correlated with other measures of childhood trauma, such as the Traumatic Events Screening Instrument-Child Version (TESI-C), as well as with measures of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Construct validity refers to whether the CTQ scores relate to other variables that are theoretically related to childhood trauma. The CTQ has been found to correlate with negative affect, low self-esteem, and difficulties in social relationships, which are consistent with expectations based on research on the effects of childhood trauma.
Pennebaker, J. W., & Susman, J. R. (1988). Disclosure of traumas and psychosomatic processes. Social Science & Medicine, 26(3), 327-332.
Pennebaker, J. W., & Chung, C. K. (2007). Expressive writing, emotional upheavals, and health. In H. S. Friedman & R. C. Silver (Eds.), Foundations of Health Psychology (pp. 263-284). Oxford University Press.
Bernstein, D. P., Fink, L., Handelsman, L., Foote, J., Lovejoy, M., Wenzel, K.,… & Ruggiero, J. (1994). Initial reliability and validity of a new retrospective measure of child abuse and neglect. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151(8), 1132-1136
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ)?
The CTQ is a self-report questionnaire that assesses childhood abuse and neglect experiences across five different subscales: emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and physical neglect.
Who developed the CTQ?
The CTQ was developed by James W. Pennebaker, along with Mary Main and colleagues.
What populations has the CTQ been validated in?
The CTQ has been validated in both clinical and non-clinical populations, as well as in different languages and cultures.
Is the CTQ used clinically or in research?
The CTQ is often used in both clinical and research settings to help identify individuals who may be at risk for mental health problems related to childhood trauma, as well as to inform research efforts aimed at understanding the long-term effects of childhood trauma on mental health and well-being.
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