Objective To determine the (1) feasibility and acceptability of administering single question mental health surveillance to carers of children with chronic disease in the inpatient setting and (2) sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of this question to detect ‘at risk’ children compared with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).
Design Cross-sectional pilot
Setting Day Medical Unit of a tertiary paediatric hospital, 1 April 2021–31 July 2021.
Patients Carers of children aged 2–17 years with chronic medical conditions.
Interventions Caregivers were asked to respond to ‘Thinking about your child’s mental health over the past 4 weeks, are they thriving/coping/struggling/always overwhelmed?’ during the admission process. All carers and children 11–17 years were invited to complete the SDQ.
Main outcome measures Feasibility and acceptability were determined by nursing feedback. Sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV were determined by comparing question responses with clinical cut-points on the SDQ.
Results 213 carers responded to the question. Nurses reported that the question was easy (12/14) or moderately easy (2/14) to use and was ‘easily understood’ (6/14) or ‘understood after some explanation’ (8/14) for most carers. The question demonstrated a high specificity (0.98)/PPV (0.87) but low sensitivity (0.2) when thriving/coping were considered together whereas when thriving was compared with all other responses the sensitivity increased to 0.7.
Conclusions Single question mental health surveillance appears acceptable to carers and nursing staff and has a high level of specificity for children who are ‘struggling’ or ‘always overwhelmed’ versus the SDQ screening measure.
- Child Psychiatry
- Health services research
- Nursing Care
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information.
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Contributors This project was devised by HH and was designed in collaboration with all contributing authors. MW was the primary project officer and oversaw all aspects of recruitment, data collection, data analyses and drafted the manuscript. All authors reviewed and contributed to the final submitted article. MW is the guarantor of this work and accepts respnsibility for the final manuscript.
Funding No member of the investigating team has any financial disclosures or conflict of interest relevant to this study which was funded by a RCH Foundation grant (#987). HH is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellowship (1136222).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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