Parent Views on School-Based Depression Screening: Findings From a National Survey

J Adolesc Health. 2021 Feb;68(2):403-406. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.08.023. Epub 2020 Oct 5.


Purpose: This study explored parent views on school involvement in screening and identification of adolescent depression.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional Internet-based survey with the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. Of 2,004 parents (63.4% response rate), 770 had a middle/high school student and were eligible for this module. Poststratification weights were generated by survey vendor Ipsos. Descriptive and bivariate results were calculated; multinomial logistic regression models controlled for parent sex, race/ethnicity, education, employment status, and school level.

Results: Parent respondents were 54.8% female, 57.5% white, 64.3% above a high school education, and 79.7% employed; 76.2% were answering based on a high school student. Most parents supported school-based depression screens starting in sixth (46.7%) or seventh (15.1%) grades, although 15.9% responded no screening should be done. Among parent respondents, 93.2% wished to be informed of a positive screen. Regression analysis found parents of middle school students were 4.18 times more likely to prefer sixth versus 9th to 12th grade to start screening.

Conclusions: Most parents support middle school depression screening but overwhelmingly wished to be informed of a positive result. Guidelines for maintaining adolescent confidentiality in a school-based depression screening program will require careful consideration.

Keywords: Adolescent parenting; Adolescents; Depression; Disclosure; Screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Schools
  • Students