Monday, November 1, 2010
Screening for Depression in Teens
Called the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, or PHQ-9 referring to the nine questions it poses, this tool has been used to screen for depression in adults for some time. Now researchers under the guidance of Dr Laura Richardson at the University of Washington in Seattle have shown its effectiveness in a survey of over 400 teens ages 13-17.
The Questionnaire can be viewed here. Essentially it asks about feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and about appetite, sleep difficulties, and thoughts of hurting oneself. A score of over 11 on the test is highly sensitive for picking up teens with depression.
This is a convenient and useful tool for busy doctors and clinicians to use as a screening device. It should never take the place of a confidential and private conversation to clarify the meaning of the answers, to assess the dangers and to provide support and referral where necessary.
image credit: ox.ac.uk