Measurement issues: Review of four patient reported outcome measures: SDQ, RCADS, C/ORS and GBO – their strengths and limitations for clinical use and service evaluation.


Background There is an international drive for routine use of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) across all health services including in relation to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). A number of reviews have summarized the validity and reliability of well-being and mental health measures for children but there are fewer attempts to consider utility for routine use. Method This review considers four child self-report measures: the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS), (Child) Outcomes Rating Scale (C/ORS) and Goals Based Outcomes (GBOs). It explores the strengths and limitations of each and considers how they can be used to support both clinical practice and service evaluation. Results There is evidence for the clinical utility of RCADS, C/ORS and GBOs, although the utility of the SDQ as a feedback measure remains unclear. For service evaluation, the SDQ has the greatest evidence for norms making it useful for comparison and there is evidence that the RCADS may be the most sensitive to change of the measures reviewed; C/ORS has issues around ceiling effect, data error and data manipulation. More research is required around GBOs before their use for service evaluation can be determined. Conclusions In summary, these different measures may be viewed as complementary tools and determining the best way to make use of them severally and individually in clinical and community settings is a current focus for child mental health practitioners.