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Type of Measure: The Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC) is a 35-item parent-report screening questionnaire that is used by health professionals to identify children with challenges in psychosocial functioning. Items on the PSC focus on the school-aged child’s day-to-day life: friends, family, play, school,and general mood. The PSC is formatted to yield a single score that reflects the parent’s view of the child’s psychosocial functioning. Use of the total score and a cutoff point is based on the premise that a child in need of attention will be either “sometimes” or “often” dysfunctional in multiple areas of daily fife, which will lead to a total score above an empirically defined screening point.

Target Population: Children ages 6 to 12

Measurement properties and previous use: The validity of the PSC was assessed by the instrument’s developers (i.e. Jellink et al., 1988) in a sample of 300 children from two pediatric practices, a middle-class group practice and an Urban health maintenance organization. Validity was established by comparing the results of PSC screening of 48 children with in-depth interview assessments and pediatricians’ ratings. Results indicated that the PSC has a specificity of 0.68 and a sensitivity of 0.95. Several children whose pediatricians’ ratings had indicated adequate functioning were identified by the PSC as having substantial psychosocial dysfunction and requiring further evaluation.

The PSC was further validated in a study of its utility as a psychosocial screen to meet the federal Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment standards in a sample of 379 children age 6 to 16 (Murphy et al., 1996). The Cronbach alpha was high (r = 0.91) for the PSC in the whole sample and virtually identical for English, Spanish, oral, and written formats. All the PSC items were significantly associated with total score on the PSC in English, Spanish, oral, and written formats. Overall, the PSC identified 10.6% of the sample as at risk for psychosocial problems. Thirty-six children (9.5% of sample) were referred for mental health follow-up. Public health data from Ventura County showed a statistically significant increase in referrals for psychologic problems during the study period in two locations using the SC: from 0.50 to 2.9% of the school-aged children seen.

Languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, German, Dutch, Chinese, Brazilian-American Portegese, Chilean, European Portugese, Filipino, French, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Italian, Khmer, Malayalam, Setswana, and Somali

Authors and Citation: Jellinek, M. S., Murphy, J. M., Robinson, J., Feins, A., Lamb, S., & Fenton, T. (1988). Pediatric Symptom Checklist: screening school-age children for psychosocial dysfunction. The Journal of pediatrics, 112(2), 201-209.

Murphy, J. M., Ichinose, C., Hicks, R. C., Kingdon, D., Crist-Whitzel, J., Jordan, P., … & Jellinek, M. S. (1996). Utility of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist as a psychosocial screen to meet the federal Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) standards: a pilot study. The Journal of pediatrics, 129(6), 864-869.

Licence: This measure is freely available for use with proper citation.

Link to measure: Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC)

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