Screening test for depression in adolescents

Washington: Screening depression in adolescents would now get easier-thanks to a new test that has been approved by researchers.

University of Washington researchers, Seattle Children`s, and Group Health Health report has suggested that the PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 item) is a good screening test for major depression in adolescents.

Led by Laura P. Richardson, the team tested the PHQ-9 as a screening tool for depression in 442 teenage patients, age 13-17, at Group Health

The test is brief, available free of charge, easy to score and understand, and proven to find major depression (meeting DSM-IV criteria) in adults.

"This is important not only because depression is relatively common among adolescents, but also because we have effective treatment for them.

"Primary care clinicians are advised to screen teens for depression and they need a convenient tool like this," said Richardson.

The team compared the PHQ-9 to the more labour-intensive gold standard, an independent structured mental health interview (the Child Diagnostic Interview Schedule, DISC-IV).

They found the best-cut point for maximizing the PHQ-9 screening test`s sensitivity without losing specificity is higher among teens than in adults.

But its sensitivity (89.5 percent) and specificity (77.5 percent) in teens are similar to those in adults.

This study was published in the journal Pediatrics.


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