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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2013 Jul-Aug;35(4):444-7. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2013.04.002. Epub 2013 May 4.

What clinical differences distinguish depressed teens with and without comorbid externalizing problems?

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. rockhill@u.washington.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study examined differences in co-occurring symptoms, psychosocial correlates, health care utilization and functional impairment in youth who screened positive for depression, stratified by whether or not they also self-reported externalizing problems.

METHODS:

The AdoleSCent Health Study examined a random sample of youth ages 13-17 enrolled in a health care system. A total of 2291 youth (60.7% of the eligible sample) completed a brief depression screen: the two-item Patient Health Questionnaire. The current analyses focus on a subset of youth (n=113) who had a follow-up interview and screened positive for possible depression on the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 using a cutoff score of 11 or higher [1]. Youth were categorized as having externalizing behavior if their score was ≥ 7 on the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC) externalizing scale [2,3]. χ(2) tests and Wilcoxon rank sum tests were used to compare groups.

RESULTS:

Differences between groups included that youth with depression and externalizing symptoms had a higher rate of obesity and had higher self-reported functional impairment than youth with depression symptoms alone.

CONCLUSIONS:

Adding screening for externalizing problems to existing recommendations for depression screening may help primary care providers to identify a high-risk depressed group of youth for referral to mental health services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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