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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Jul;160(7):694-704.

Improving recognition of adolescent depression in primary care.

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  • 1Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University and Center for the Advancement of Children's Mental Health, Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, USA.



To address the following questions: (1) What evidence (ie, psychometric data collected in pediatric primary care, patient outcome data) exists for the various methods used to identify adolescent depression in primary care? and (2) What identification practices are currently in use?


We systematically searched MEDLINE for English-language articles using specific search terms and examined relevant titles, abstracts, and articles.


We reviewed 1743 MEDLINE abstracts. Seventy-four articles were pulled for examination, with 30 articles meeting full criteria.


Five studies had adequate psychometric data on various adolescent depression identification methods in primary care. Only 1 compared the diagnostic accuracy of physicians trained to ask depression questions vs physicians trained in the use of a diagnostic aid. Six studies reported on current practice. Evidence regarding sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value was sought for question 1. Frequency of screening was sought for question 2.


Review of these articles found that few health care professionals use systematic depression identification methods, despite some growing evidence for their validity, feasibility, and possible efficacy.


Available evidence indicates that primary care professionals would improve their rates of depression diagnosis through training, but even more so by using adolescent symptom rating scales.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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