New research suggests a simple pen and paper assessment at the beginning of a primary care visit can aid practitioners in determining if a teen is suffering from depression.
Identification of depression is often a challenge among teens and young adults with tardy access to the mental health system potentially resulting in serious health consequences
In the study, Sharolyn Dihigo, R.N., D.N.P., a nurse practitioner and clinical assistant professor in the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, examined available research to determine whether nurse practitioners and others in primary care settings should add a mental health screening to well visits for teenage patients.
Her conclusion was that a simple paper test called a CES-DC (short for Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children) would be a reliable, quick way of determining whether the practitioner should refer a teen for mental health support.
“Getting teens treatment when they need it is essential and has potentially life-saving benefits,” said Dihigo.
“Providing this test while a family waits for their appointment can overcome hesitation to talk about the feelings and behaviors linked to depression and lead to treatment success.”
The study is found in the online journal Women’s Healthcare: A Clinical Journal for NPs.
Experts say that nationally, it’s estimated that five to 20 percent of adolescents suffer from depression, but many don’t receive the treatment they need.
As a result, both the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and the American Academy of Pediatrics have promoted screening for mental health problems in primary care.
The test instrument CES-DC is free and does not require extra training for those who administer the screening. The exam contains 20 questions about how much children or young adults experienced sleeplessness or unhappiness in the past week.
During the study, Dihigo reviewed 14 prior research efforts.
“Dr. Dihigo’s systematic review of available evidence has identified a low-cost, simple assessment that she can confidently recommend because she has used it in her clinical practice,” said Jennifer Gray, Ph.D., interim dean of the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing.
“In combining research and practice, she is doing what we all aspire to do — make a difference in the lives of patients.”
Source: University of Texas at Arlington