Screening for depression in adolescent paediatric patients: validity of the new Depression Screener for Teenagers (DesTeen)

J Affect Disord. 2011 Sep;133(1-2):69-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.03.026. Epub 2011 Apr 16.


Background: Depression in adolescents is often hard to detect. In many cases paediatricians are the first point of contact. In order to increase recognition rates, screening instruments may be a helpful support for health care professionals. However, there is a lack of valid and economical screening instruments for primary care patients. Thus, the aim of the study was the development of the new Depression Screener for Teenagers (DesTeen) and its validation in a paediatric sample.

Method: 326 patients between 13 and 16 years old completed the DesTeen and a diagnostic interview, serving as gold standard. Prevalence rate for any depressive disorder (minor depression, major depression and dysthymia) was 12.6%. Psychometric properties were calculated. For validity measures, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUC) for any depressive disorder and the diagnostic subgroups was computed.

Results: DesTeen showed a high reliability (Cronbach's α=.87) and a high validity (AUC=.91). For the diagnostic subgroups AUC values did not significantly differ from overall accuracy of any depressive disorder (major depression: AUC=.95, p=.179; dysthymia: AUC=.88, p=.605; minor depression: AUC=.87, p=.327). The optimal cut-off point for any depressive disorder according to the Youden-Index yielded a sensitivity of .90 and a specificity of .80. An abbreviated 5-item version of DesTeen showed no loss in validity (AUC=.90, p=.695).

Conclusions: Overall, DesTeen can be regarded as a valid screening instrument for adolescent paediatric patients. For practical use, the 5-item version is even more promising. A replication of these results is essential.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Depression
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major
  • Dysthymic Disorder
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mental Disorders
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires