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Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2009 Jan-Mar;21(1):91-100.

Brief mental health screening questionnaire for children and adolescents in primary care settings.

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Unit of Epidemiology and Diagnostic in Developmental Psychopathology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Early detection of mental health problems is important. The implication of primary care professionals and the adequacy of instruments could be of great help.


To study the validity of a brief questionnaire based on psychosocial functioning to detect mental health problems in a high-risk general population.


151 children and adolescents were assessed as part of a longitudinal 3 year follow-up study of two cohorts born in 1989 and 1993, respectively.


semi-structured diagnostic interviews were used to evaluate their psychopathological condition, to test for functional impairment, and to determine whether it would be appropriate for them to be referred to Mental Health Services. Parents also answered a Brief Mental Health Screening Questionnaire (BMHSQ) containing questions about main psychosocial functioning areas. Logistic and multiple regressions were applied to study the predictive power of the questionnaire.


The BMHSQ showed good clinical screening properties and was useful in determining who should be addressed to a specialized psychopathological service.


General practitioners could play an essential role in detecting and referring such disorders if provided with the proper tools. The use of brief questionnaires on functioning and outcomes in pediatric practice could improve comprehensive health care for children and adolescents. Rapid detection of mental health problems in a primary care setting is possible, as is better use and planning of health services.

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