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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2009 Apr;11(2):106-13.

Assessment of depression in children and adolescents.

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  • 1University of Pennsylvania, 3440 Market Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Depression assessment instruments are valuable tools in the treatment of children and adolescents. Available instruments include diagnostic interviews, self-administered rating scales, and observer-rated scales. To select an appropriate instrument, the user must define the goal of the assessment and then identify instruments with the properties that match this goal. This article discusses how to choose an assessment instrument and gives an overview of currently available depression assessment instruments. Important considerations include how and by whom an instrument is administered, what kind of data are obtained by the instrument, and the validity and reliability of the instrument. Standardized instruments can greatly improve the assessment process, but the user must not overinterpret or misinterpret the results.

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