Screening for adolescent depression: comparison of the Kutcher Adolescent Depression Scale with the Beck depression inventory

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2002 Summer;12(2):113-26. doi: 10.1089/104454602760219153.


Self-report instruments commonly used to assess depression in adolescents have limited or unknown reliability and validity in this age group. We describe a new self-report scale, the Kutcher Adolescent Depression Scale (KADS), designed specifically to diagnose and assess the severity of adolescent depression. This report compares the diagnostic validity of the full 16-item instrument, brief versions of it, and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) against the criteria for major depressive episode (MDE) from the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Some 309 of 1,712 grade 7 to grade 12 students who completed the BDI had scores that exceeded 15. All were invited for further assessment, of whom 161 agreed to assessment by the KADS, the BDI again, and a MINI diagnostic interview for MDE. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to determine which KADS items best identified subjects experiencing an MDE. Further ROC curve analyses established that the overall diagnostic ability of a six-item subscale of the KADS was at least as good as that of the BDI and was better than that of the full-length KADS. Used with a cutoff score of 6, the six-item KADS achieved sensitivity and specificity rates of 92% and 71%, respectively-a combination not achieved by other self-report instruments. The six-item KADS may prove to be an efficient and effective means of ruling out MDE in adolescents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods*
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data*
  • ROC Curve
  • Students / statistics & numerical data