Mental health screening in adolescents with CFS/ME

Maria Loades*, Paul Stallard, David S Kessler, Esther M Crawley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Psychiatric co-morbidity in adolescents is common, with the majority of those who have depression also having at least one anxiety disorder, and many meeting the diagnostic criteria for more than one anxiety disorder [1]. In our recent paper published in this journal, we reported that approximately one in three adolescents with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) has either an anxiety disorder, or major depressive disorder, or both [2].

In clinical practice, screening questionnaires which ask about depression and anxiety symptoms, such as the Revised Children’s Anxiety and Depression Scale, RCADS [3], and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, HADS [4], are often used as part of the assessment process. However, in our paper, we reported our findings of variable discriminative validity of these questionnaires for detecting anxiety and depression separately [2]. Whilst we found sufficiently accurate threshold scores for classifying those with anxiety disorders on both the 47-item and 25-item parent and child versions of the RCADS, we could not identify a sufficiently accurate threshold score for classifying those with depression. We also could not identify sufficiently accurate threshold scores on the HADS for either anxiety or depression.

Clinicians treating children with health disorders need a simple screening mechanism to identify those with co-morbid mental health problems that will require further assessment. Using one threshold score is therefore arguably more useful than calculating two separate scores (for depression and anxiety). Given the high co-morbidity between depression and anxiety in this population, we sought to identify the threshold score for mental health problems on two commonly used screening questionnaires, the RCADS-total and the HADS-total.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Early online date8 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Prof Crawley was funded during data collection by the National Institute for Health Research (Senior Research Fellowship, SRF-2013-06-013). Dr Loades is funded by a NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship (DRF-2016-09-021). This report is independent research. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. All authors have indicated they have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.


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