For the second time, the National Quality Forum (NQF) has endorsed Massachusetts General Hospital’s Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC), a screening questionnaire used by pediatricians to improve the recognition and treatment of psychosocial problems in children, in its Behavioral Health and Substance Use, Fall 2017 Cycle: CDP Report.

NQF is non-profit standards-setting organization that relies on input from several diverse professional and community organizations, including expert medical panels, to evaluate standards through an open and transparent process. NQF endorses evidence-based measures with proven validity and feasibility and associated with high quality health care. They have only endorsed a select group of projects measuring mental health, including the PSC, for children since its inception.

 “With teenage suicide rates rising, depression screening has just become a performance standard for most of the country’s health plans. As one of just a handful of approved measures of its kind, the PSC could play an important role in getting help to more young people who need it,” says J. Michael Murphy, Ed.D, senior staff psychologist in the Child Psychiatry Service at MGH.

The checklist, created in 1982 by Michael Jellinek, MD, the former chief of child psychiatry at MGH and chief clinical officer of Partners HealthCare and has been continuously validated over the last 36 years by Jellinek and Murphy, its co-author. The checklist is a 35-item parent questionnaire used to measure overall psychosocial functioning in children from 3 to 17 years old. Available for free on the MGH website, the form comes in more than two dozen languages and pictorial form. The site also offers a youth self-report and a brief 17-item version for parents and children.

Jellinek says “Although the PSC has already been used to screen several million children in statewide programs in Massachusetts and California and a in a national program in Chile, NQF’s endorsement paves the way for other states and large healthcare organizations to use the PSC to screen children and adolescents for mental health problems and to evaluate programs that serve them.”

The checklist is also endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is one of a handful of measures required for the state’s Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative. The governments of Chile and Australia also use the checklist as part of their national mental health screening programs.

Complete details can be found in the NQF Behavioral Health and Substance Use Fall 2017 Report.