The ability of YSR DSM-oriented depression scales to predict DSM-IV depression in young adults: a longitudinal study

J Affect Disord. 2010 Feb;121(1-2):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.05.013. Epub 2009 Jun 7.


Background: The Achenbach child behaviour checklist (CBCL/YSR) is a widely used screening tool for affective problems. Several studies report good association between the checklists and psychiatric diagnoses; although with varying degrees of agreement. Most are cross-sectional studies involving adolescents referred to mental health services. This paper aims to evaluate the performance of the youth self report (YSR) empirical and DSM-oriented internalising scales in predicting later depressive disorders in young adults.

Methods: Sample was 2431 young adults from an Australian birth cohort study. The strength of association between the empirical and DSM-oriented scales assessed at 14 and 21 years and structured-interview derived depression in young adulthood (18 to 22 years) were tested using odds ratios, ROC analyses and related diagnostic efficiency tests (sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values).

Results: Adolescents with internalising symptoms were twice (OR 2.3, 95%CI 1.7 to 3.1) as likely to be diagnosed with DSM-IV depression by age 21. Use of DSM-oriented depressive scales did not improve the concordance between the internalising behaviour and DSM-IV diagnosed depression at age 14 (ORs ranged from 1.9 to 2.5).

Limitations: Some loss to follow-up over the 7-year gap between the two waves of follow-up.

Conclusion: DSM-oriented scales perform no better than the standard internalising or anxious/depressed scales in identifying young adults with later DSM-IV depressive disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Dysthymic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Dysthymic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Dysthymic Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Queensland
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult