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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 286939, 11 pages
Research Article

Cutting a Long Story Short? The Clinical Relevance of Asking Parents, Nurses, and Young Children Themselves to Identify Children’s Mental Health Problems by One or Two Questions

1Department of Child Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland
2Department of Child Psychiatry, Tampere University Hospital, PL 2000, 33521 Tampere, Finland
3School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland
4Department of Psychiatry, Tampere University Hospital, PL 2000, 33521 Tampere, Finland

Received 4 July 2014; Revised 28 November 2014; Accepted 7 December 2014; Published 31 December 2014

Academic Editor: Veit Roessner

Copyright © 2014 Anne-Mari Borg et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background and Aims. Assessing young children’s mental health is a crucial and challenging task. The aim of the study was to evaluate the clinical relevance of asking parents, nurses, and young children themselves to identify children’s mental health problems by only one or two questions. Methods. In regular health check-ups of 4- to 9-year-old children , parents and public health nurses assessed by one question whether the child had any emotional or behavioral difficulties. The child completed a self-evaluation enquiry on his/her emotional well-being. A stratified proportion of the participating parents were invited to a diagnostic interview. Results. Sensitivities were fairly good for the parents’ (68%), nurses’ (65%), and their combined (79%) one-question screens. Difficulties identified by parents and nurses were major risks (OR 10–14) for any child psychiatric disorders . The child’s self-evaluation was related to 2-fold to 3-fold risks for any psychiatric diagnosis, for any emotional diagnosis, and for negative situational factors. Conclusion. The one-question screen for parents and public health nurses together quite adequately identified the young children with mental health problems. The child’s self-evaluation provided relevant and complementary information on his/her mental health and especially emotional problems.