Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 263-273

First online:

Properties of the beck depression inventory as a screening instrument for adolescent depression

  • Manuel BarreraJr.Affiliated withPsychology Department, Arizona State University
  • , Carolynne V. Garrison-JonesAffiliated withPsychology Department, Arizona State University

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The utility of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) for identifying Major Depressive Episode was assessed with two samples of adolescents, 65 psychiatric hospital inpatients and 49 secondary school students. Diagnoses based on the Child Assessment Schedule served as criteria. With the school sample, a BDI screening score of 16 resulted in 100% sensitivity and 93.2% specificity. For the inpatient sample, a cutoff of 11 yielded a sensitivity of 81.5% and specificity of 52.6%. There was evidence of the BDI's convergent and discriminant validity for both samples. The results were consistent with the assertion that Major Depressive Episode is a sufficiently distinct diagnostic category in adolescence to be detected by a screening measure such as the BDI.