Measuring mental health and wellbeing outcomes for children and adolescents to inform practice and policy: a review of child self-report measures.


There is a growing appetite for mental health and wellbeing outcome measures that can inform clinical practice at individual and service levels, including use for local and national benchmarking. Despite a varied literature on child mental health and wellbeing outcome measures that focus on psychometric properties alone, no reviews exist that appraise the availability of psychometric evidence and suitability for use in routine practice in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) including key implementation issues. This paper aimed to present the findings of the first review that evaluates existing broadband measures of mental health and wellbeing outcomes in terms of these criteria. The following steps were implemented in order to select measures suitable for use in routine practice: literature database searches, consultation with stakeholders, application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, secondary searches and filtering. Subsequently, detailed reviews of the retained measures’ psychometric properties and implementation features were carried out. 11 measures were identified as having potential for use in routine practice and meeting most of the key criteria: 1) Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment, 2) Beck Youth Inventories, 3) Behavior Assessment System for Children, 4) Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale, 5) Child Health Questionnaire, 6) Child Symptom Inventories, 7) Health of the National Outcome Scale for Children and Adolescents, 8) Kidscreen, 9) Pediatric Symptom Checklist, 10) Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, 11) Youth Outcome Questionnaire. However, all existing measures identified had limitations as well as strengths. Furthermore, none had sufficient psychometric evidence available to demonstrate that they could reliably measure both severity and change over time in key groups. The review suggests a way of rigorously evaluating the growing number of broadband self-report mental health outcome measures against standards of feasibility and psychometric credibility in relation to use for practice and policy.