Assessment Of Child Depression

The development of assessment instruments has contributed considerably to the increased attention to child and adolescent depression. Assessment is likely to involve a number of strategies and to sample a broad spectrum of attributes. A general clinical interview and use of a general dimensional scale like the Child Behavior Checklist are common. Interviews intended to yield a DSM diagnosis and a variety of measures that focus more specifically on depression have been developed (cf. Hodges, 1994; Curry and Craighead, 1993). These interviews and assessment devices have greatly facilitated research on depression in children and adolescents.
Among the measures of depression that have been developed, self-report instruments are the most common. They are particularly important given that many of the key problems that characterize depression, such as sadness and feelings of worthlessness, are subjective. The Children's Depression Inventory (GDI; Kovacs, 1992) is probably the most commonly employed measure of this type. It is an offspring of the Beck Depression Inventory, the most commonly employed inventory for adults. The GDI asks youngsters to choose which of three alternatives best characterizes them during the past two weeks.

Twenty-seven items sample affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of depression. Research on gender and age differences, reliability, validity, and clinically meaningful cutoff scores has been conducted for the GDI (Kazdin, 1988; Reynolds, 1994). Reynolds has also developed two self-report measures to assess depressive symptomatology that are frequently employed and that have been reported to have good psychometric properties (Reynolds, 1994): Reynolds Child Depression Scale for use with children eight to thirteen (Reynolds, 1989) and Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale for use with youngsters twelve to eighteen (Reynolds, 1987). Many self-report measures are also rephrased so that they can be completed by significant others such as the child's parents (Clarizio, 1994). Measures completed by both the child and parent often show only low levels of correlation, and agreement may vary with the age of the youngster (Kazdin, 1994; Rencuf and Kovacs, 1994). These results suggest that information provided by different sources may tap different aspects of the child's behavior. For example, children's self-report of depression, but not parents' reports, correlate with hopelessness and suicidal thoughts (Kazdin, Rodgers, and Colbus, 19S6). Parents reports of depression in their child, on the other hand, correlate with the child's mood-related expression and social behavior (Kazdin et al., 1985).
Instruments may also be completed by other adults such as teachers and clinicians (Clarizio, 1994). Ratings by peers can also provide a unique perspective. The Peer Nomination Inventory of Depression (Lefkowitz and Teslny, 1980) asks children to nominate peers who fit certain descrip¬tions. Table presents questions regarding depression, happiness, and popularity to which the peers are asked to respond. A child's score is the sum of the nominations received for all the depression items.
Measures of constructs that are related to depression have also been developed. Measures of attributes such as hopelessness (Kazdin et al., 1986) and self-esteem (e.g., Harter, 1985) have been and are likely to be helpful for both clinical and research purposes.

Peer Nomination Inventory for Depression Items
Who often play alone? (D)
Who thinks they are bad? (D)
Who doesn't try again when they lose? (D)
Who often sleep in the class? (D)
Who often looks lonely? (D)
Who often say they don't feel well? (D)
Who say they can't do things? (D)
Who often cries? (D)
Who often looks happy? (H)
Who likes to do a lot of things?
Who worries a lot? (D)
Who doesn't play? (D)
Who often smiles? (H)
Who doesn't take part in things? (D)
Who doesn't have much fun? (D)
Who is often cheerful? (H)
Who think other don't like them? (D)
Who often looks sad? (D)
Who would you like to sit next to in class? (P)
Who are the children you would like to have for your best friends? (P)

D = item that are include in depressed score
H = item in happiness score
P = item in popularity score

Behavior Disorders of Childhood by Rita Wicks-Nelson & Allen C. Israel

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