Objective: To examine the level of diagnostic and discriminative accuracy of three dimensional rating scales for detecting anxiety and depressive disorders in a school-based survey of 9th grade youths.
Method: Classroom screening instruments, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCMAS), and the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC) were administered to 632 youths from three sites in 1998. On the basis of rating scale results, samples of high-scoring and non-high-scoring youths were invited to participate in a diagnostic interview conducted within 2 months of the screening sessions.
Results: MASC scores were most strongly associated with individual anxiety disorders, particularly among females, whereas the CES-D composite score was associated with a diagnosis of major depression, after controlling for comorbid disorders. The RCMAS was least successful in discriminating anxiety and depression. When receiver operator characteristic curves were examined, diagnostic accuracy was moderate.
Conclusions: The ability of the MASC and CES-D to discriminate within and between categorically defined diagnostic groups has important implications for the accurate identification of youths in need of services.