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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2011 Jul;27(7):611-5. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e318222554e.

The acceptability of mental health screening in a pediatric emergency department.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.



The purposes of the study were (1) to assess the acceptability of mental health screening in the pediatric emergency department (ED) for children and their parents; (2) to measure providers' perceptions on whether screening has an impact on patient care; and (3) to determine the impact of screening status on acceptability.


A validated pediatric mental health screening instrument was administered to 384 parent-child dyads. A 6-item satisfaction questionnaire was administered by a trained research coordinator to assess parent-child reactions to the screen. Emergency department providers rated how difficult the screening made it for them to care for the patient. Research staff reported the difficulty of conducting screening during the ED visit and the amount of time parents/children spent completing the screen.


Most parents (82%) and children (75%) felt the screening was acceptable. Parent reports of pediatric mental health problems were not associated with lower acceptability scores. The number of mental health problems reported by a child was associated with an increased likelihood that the screening made the child upset (P = 0.02). Parents who reported pediatric mental health problems were more likely to find the screening helpful (odds ratio,1.84 [95% confidence interval, 1.15-2.93]), with black parents more likely to report that the screen was helpful (odds ratio, 2.5 [95% confidence interval, 1.43-4.33]). Nearly all doctors (99%) and nurses (97%) reported that the screening did not make it difficult for them to care for the patient.


Overall, mental health screening appears to be acceptable in the pediatric ED.

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