A screening tool is a standardized set of questions used to identify issues in a child that require further investigation.
Scope in Pediatrics
13-20% of children in the U.S. experience a mental health disorder each year.
The use of standardized screening tools by pediatric providers is more effective in the identification of developmental, behavioral and psychosocial issues in children than clinical assessments alone.
Although poverty increases the risk for mental health conditions, studies show that the greatest increase in prevalence occurred among children living in households earning greater than 400% above the federal poverty line.
Universal screening reduces missed opportunities to identify children who may have mental health conditions and promotes intervention aimed at preventing some of the long-term effects of a childhood mental disorder.
For an initial psychosocial assessment consider administering a general screening tool such as the Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17 or the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire
Secondary screening tools are designed to focus on a specific set of symptoms. Examples of secondary screening tools are
- The Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7) and the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED) helps the practitioner assess for an anxiety disorder.
- Depression scales include the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 Modified for Adolescents (PHQ9M) and the Columbia Depression Scale can be administered universally to adolescents or used in a targeted population.
- The Ask Suicide Screening Questions (asQ) assesses patients with severe symptoms of depression.
- The Vanderbilt rating scale assesses symptoms of attention deficit disorder as well as oppositional and anxious behaviors.
Related AAP Policy
Promoting Optimal Development: Identifying Infants and Young Children with Developmental Disorders Through Developmental Surveillance and Screening
Promoting Optimal Development: Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Problems
Recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care
Substance Use Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (Policy Statement)
Related AAP Resources
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The AAP gratefully acknowledges support for the Pediatric Mental Health Minute in the form of an educational grant from SOBI.