Brief psychiatric assessment tools are needed for evaluating children affected by HIV for emotional and behavioral problems. We compared a self-administered symptom rating scale (CASI-4R) to a semi-structured diagnostic interview (DICA-P) in 136 U.S. children affected by HIV. Agreement and performance measures for the two instruments were computed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, anxiety, and disruptive behavior. Correlations and regression analyses were conducted to compare the two instruments, and to evaluate their associations with social, academic, and global function. Higher CASI-4R symptom severity scores were associated with DICA diagnoses (p < 0.02 for all disorders). Agreement (κ) between DICA diagnoses and CASI-4R Clinical Cutoffs (which incorporated symptoms and impairment) was low to moderate (0.19-0.40 for all disorders). Thirty-two percent of cases with a DICA diagnosis were identified by the CASI-4R Clinical Cutoff (sensitivity), yet over 90% of DICA-negative cases were negative by the CASI-4R (specificity). Sensitivity was higher using CASI-4R Severity Score thresholds based on median scores compared to the DICA diagnoses. The presence and severity of psychiatric symptoms and impairment were associated with poorer academic, social, and global function. The CASI-4R symptom checklist can be used to inexpensively screen youth affected by HIV for emotional and behavioral problems, although it is important that there be appropriate mental health evaluation follow-up.
Keywords: Children and adolescents; HIV; Mental health; Psychiatric status rating scales; Validity.