In a bid to improve mental health screening of Latino children from immigrant families, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine report they have identified a culturally sensitive set of tools that are freely available to pediatricians, take less than 10 minutes to use, are in easy-to-read Spanish, and assess a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems.
In a summary of their work, published on Nov. 22 in Clinical Pediatrics, the investigators encourage primary care pediatricians who would like to screen patients for mental health symptoms, such as anxiety, depression or aggression, to consider utilizing any of four specific mental health symptom screening tools. These four screening tools are available in Spanish, and one includes pictorial cues. The four are the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC)-17-question version, the PSC-35-question version, the pictorial PSC-35, and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, which consists of 25 questions.
To identify ideal mental health screening tools, she says, the research team first combed published scientific literature in English and Spanish for screening tools supported by Bright Futures, an initiative by the American Academy of Pediatrics to support primary care physicians in providing holistic well-child and adolescent care. The team examined all studies published between 2005 and 2015 that explicitly included and reported the results of mental health screening with a Latino or Spanish-speaking sample. Overall, out of total of seven screening instruments they assessed, they identified four that fit their criteria for breaking down barriers to understanding.