Use of the pediatric symptom checklist in the pediatric neurology population

Pediatr Neurol. 1999 Feb;20(2):116-20. doi: 10.1016/s0887-8994(98)00121-0.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC) as a mental health screening instrument in a busy pediatric neurology population in comparison with more lengthy, time-consuming assessment methods. One hundred two children were screened using the PSC. PSC results were compared with scores on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), results from structured interviews, and ratings of adaptive functioning using the Children's Global Assessment Scale (CGAS). Thirty-nine of the patients (38%) scored 63 or above on the CBCL, indicating psychosocial impairment. Using a cutoff score of 22, the PSC correctly identified 35 of these 39 positive cases (sensitivity 89.7) and 48 of the 63 children with CBCL scores below 63 (specificity 76.2). CGAS scores were significantly negatively correlated with PSC scores (r = -0.60, P < 0.05). The PSC correctly identified 85.9% of children who scored 70 or below on the CGAS. Among the 53 children with psychiatric diagnoses on the basis of the interview, 41 scored above the cutoff of 22 on the PSC. Results suggest that the PSC is an efficient and accurate screen for identification of mental health problems in the pediatric neurology population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Symptoms / complications
  • Behavioral Symptoms / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / standards*
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Psychometrics / standards*
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Socioeconomic Factors