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Assessing feasibility of routine identification tools for mental health disorder in neurology clinics


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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