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Open Access Research article

Use of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist for the detection of psychosocial problems in preventive child healthcare

Sijmen A Reijneveld12*, Anton GC Vogels2, Femke Hoekstra23 and Matty R Crone2

Author Affiliations

1 University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Department of Health Sciences, P.O. Box 196, 9700 AD Groningen, The Netherlands

2 TNO (Netherlands Organisation of Applied Scientific Research) Quality of Life, Department of Child Health, Leiden, The Netherlands

3 Amsterdam Municipal Health Service, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:197  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-197

Published: 27 July 2006

Abstract

Background

Early detection and treatment of psychosocial problems by preventive child healthcare may lead to considerable health benefits, and a short questionnaire could support this aim. The aim of this study was to assess whether the Dutch version of the US Pediatric Symptom checklist (PSC) is valid and suitable for the early detection of psychosocial problems among children.

Methods

We included 687 children (response 84.3%) aged 7–12 undergoing routine health assessments in nine Preventive Child Health Services across the Netherlands. Child health professionals interviewed and examined children and parents. Before the interview, parents completed an authorised Dutch translation of the PSC and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). The CBCL and data on the child's current treatment status were used as criteria for the validity of the PSC.

Results

The consistency of the Dutch PSC was good (Cronbach alpha 0.89). The area under the ROC curve using the CBCL as a criterion was 0.94 (95% confidence interval 0.92 to 0.96). At the US cut-off (28 and above), the prevalence rate of an increased score and sensitivity were lower than in the USA. At a lower cut-off (22 and above), sensitivity and specificity were similar to that of the US version (71.7% and 93.0% respectively). Information on the PSC also helped in the identification of children with elevated CBCL Total Problems Scores, above solely clinical judgment.

Conclusion

The PSC is also useful for the early detection of psychosocial problems in preventive child healthcare outside the USA, especially with an adjusted cut-off.