Youth Depression Screening with Parent and Self-Reports: Assessing Current and Prospective Depression Risk

  • Joseph R. CohenEmail author
  • Felix K. So
  • Jami F. Young
  • Benjamin L. Hankin
  • Brenda A. Lee
Original Article


Few studies have examined the incremental validity of multi-informant depression screening approaches. In response, we examined how recommendations for using a multi-informant approach may vary for identifying concurrent or prospective depressive episodes. Participants included 663 youth (AgeM = 11.83; AgeSD = 2.40) and their caregiver who independently completed youth depression questionnaires, and clinical diagnostic interviews, every 6 months for 3 years. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses showed that youth-report best predicted concurrent episodes, and that both youth and parent-report were necessary to adequately forecast prospective episodes. More specifically, youth-reported negative mood symptoms and parent-reported anhedonic symptoms incrementally predicted future depressive episodes. Findings were invariant to youth’s sex and age, and results from person and variable-centered analyses suggested that discrepancies between informants were not clinically meaningful. Implications for future research and evidence-based decision making for depression screening initiatives are discussed.


Depression Multi-informant screening Receiver operating characteristics Translational research 



This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants 5R01MH077195 and 5R01MH077178 awarded to Benjamin Hankin and Jami Young by the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors have no other conflicts of interest to report.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in our study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent and parental consent was obtained from all participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph R. Cohen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Felix K. So
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jami F. Young
    • 2
  • Benjamin L. Hankin
    • 1
  • Brenda A. Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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