Improving recognition of adolescent depression in primary care

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Jul;160(7):694-704. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.160.7.694.


Objective: To address the following questions: (1) What evidence (ie, psychometric data collected in pediatric primary care, patient outcome data) exists for the various methods used to identify adolescent depression in primary care? and (2) What identification practices are currently in use?

Data sources: We systematically searched MEDLINE for English-language articles using specific search terms and examined relevant titles, abstracts, and articles.

Study selection: We reviewed 1743 MEDLINE abstracts. Seventy-four articles were pulled for examination, with 30 articles meeting full criteria.

Data extraction: Five studies had adequate psychometric data on various adolescent depression identification methods in primary care. Only 1 compared the diagnostic accuracy of physicians trained to ask depression questions vs physicians trained in the use of a diagnostic aid. Six studies reported on current practice. Evidence regarding sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value was sought for question 1. Frequency of screening was sought for question 2.

Data synthesis: Review of these articles found that few health care professionals use systematic depression identification methods, despite some growing evidence for their validity, feasibility, and possible efficacy.

Conclusion: Available evidence indicates that primary care professionals would improve their rates of depression diagnosis through training, but even more so by using adolescent symptom rating scales.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychometrics