Pediatric behavioral health screening in primary care: a preliminary analysis of the pediatric symptom checklist-17 with functional impairment items

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2014 May;53(5):449-55. doi: 10.1177/0009922814527498. Epub 2014 Mar 18.


Background: Roughly 21% of youth in the United States meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis, but only one-fifth of those children obtain help. The Pediatric Behavioral Health Screen (PBHS) utilizes the Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17 (PSC-17) and functional impairment items to assess behavioral health concerns.

Methods: Data were obtained from a systematic chart review for children 6 to 16 years old. Descriptive analyses and a confirmatory factor analysis were used to evaluate the clinical performance and utility of the PBHS.

Results: A positive screen was endorsed for 26.7% of the sample, of whom 68% also experienced functional impairment. Clinicians appropriately administered the screen 73.5% of the time. The 3-factor model of the PSC-17 exhibited a good model fit.

Conclusions: Prevalence rates of psychosocial concerns and functional impairment affirm the need for routine behavioral health screening in the pediatric primary care setting. The PBHS exhibited good psychometric performance and clinical utility.

Keywords: Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17; behavioral health screen; factor analysis; functional impairment; pediatric primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Checklist*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Primary Health Care