A few minutes spent filling out a mental health assessment called a CES-DC in a health care provider's waiting room could make a big difference for some teenagers suffering from depression, according to new paper.
Nationally, it's estimated that five to 20 percent of adolescents suffer from depression, but many don't receive the treatment they need. Both the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and the American Academy of Pediatrics have promoted screening for mental health problems in primary care.
CES-DC is short for Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children. It is free and does not require extra training for those who administer the screening. It contains 20 questions about how much children experienced sleeplessness or unhappiness in the past week.
Sharolyn Dihigo, a nurse practitioner and clinical assistant professor in the
The University of Texas at Arlington
College of Nursing, recently 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 CES-DC 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, who is also interim director of UT Arlington's Doctor of Nursing Practice program. "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."
To complete her paper, Dihigo reviewed 14 studies done previously by other researchers. She is also working on a paper describing a pilot project that put these methods into action in her own clinic.
"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, interim dean of the UT 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."