The purpose of the database is to provide citations to all literature on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental-health sequelae of traumatic events, without disciplinary, linguistic, or geographical limitations, and to offer both current and retrospective coverage. Although it is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the PILOTS database is not limited to literature on PTSD among veterans. The current subject coverage of the database includes:
- post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder (with or without reference to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
- the assessment, description, prevention, or treatment of any psychiatric disorder, especially dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder), other dissociative disorders, or borderline personality disorder, associated etiologically or epidemiologically with exposure to a traumatic event, or to an event experienced as traumatic by the population under discussion
- the preparation or provision of mental health services to a traumatized population or a population at risk of experiencing traumatic events
- issues of professional ethics, scientific methodology, or public policy relating to traumatized populations
The database, which is updated monthly, currently includes over 31,000 records for journal articles, books, book chapters, doctoral dissertations, government reports, and miscellaneous other publications. Although its coverage extends to 1871, over 99 percent of the records indexed date from 1960 and after. For serious searchers, PILOTS provides a 188-page User's Guide (in PDF format - 821 KB), consisting primarily of a detailed subject thesaurus.