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Assessing feasibility of routine identification tools for mental health disorder in neurology clinics
  1. Sophie D Bennett1,
  2. Isobel Heyman1,2,
  3. Anna E Coughtrey1,2,
  4. Marta Buszewicz3,
  5. Sarah Byford4,
  6. Caroline J Dore5,
  7. Peter Fonagy6,
  8. Tamsin Ford7,
  9. Rona Moss-Morris8,
  10. Terence Stephenson1,
  11. Sophia Varadkar1,2,
  12. Erin Walker9,
  13. Roz Shafran1
  1. 1 UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  2. 2 Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3 Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  4. 4 Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK
  5. 5 Comprehensive Clinical Trials Unit, University College London, London, UK
  6. 6 Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK
  7. 7 University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  8. 8 Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK
  9. 9 Patient Insight and Involvement, UCLPartners, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sophie D Bennett, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH, UK; Sophie.Bennett.10{at}


Objective We aimed to test the feasibility of using an online parent-completed diagnostic assessment for detecting common mental health disorders in children attending neurology clinics. The assessment does not require intervention by a mental health professional or additional time in the clinic appointment.

Setting Two parallel and related screening studies were undertaken: Study 1: Tertiary paediatric neurology clinics. Study 2: Secondary and tertiary paediatric neurology clinics.

Patients Study 1: 406 Young people aged 7–18 attending paediatric neurology clinics. Study 2: 225 Young people aged 3–18 attending paediatric epilepsy clinics.

Interventions Parents completed online versions of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and Development and Well-being Assessment (DAWBA).

Main outcome measures We investigated: the willingness of families to complete the measures, proportion identified as having mental health disorders, time taken to complete the measures and acceptability to families and clinicians.

Results The mean total difficulties score of those that had completed the SDQ fell in the ‘high’ and ‘very high’ ranges. 60% and 70% of the DAWBAS completed met criteria for at least one DSM-IV disorder in study 1 and 2 respectively. 98% of the parents reported that the screening methods used were acceptable.

  • neurology
  • psychology
  • screening

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in the design and execution of the studies reported and all have contributed to and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (grant number: 17663) and an NIHR Programme Development Grant for Applied Research (grant number: RP-PG-0616-10007). The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust and University College London. PF is in receipt of a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator Award (NF-SI-0514-10157), and was in part supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) North Thames at Barts Health NHS Trust.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Both studies received full ethical approval from Camden and Islington Research Ethics Committee (study 1) and the South East Coast–Surrey Research Ethics Committee (study 2).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Unpublished data are available on request in accordance with the ethical permissions regarding data sharing.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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