Comparing the Diagnostic Accuracy of Six Potential Screening Instruments for Bipolar Disorder in Youths Aged 5 to 17 Years

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To compare the diagnostic efficiency of six index tests as predictors of juvenile bipolar disorder in two large outpatient samples, aged 5 to 10 and 11 to 17 years, gathered from 1997 to 2002.


DSM-IV diagnosis was based on a semistructured diagnostic interview (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children) with the parent and youth sequentially, blind to scores on the index tests. Participants were 318 youths aged 5 to 10 (50% with bipolar diagnoses) and 324 youths aged 11 to 17 (41% with bipolar diagnoses). Areas under the curve (AUCs) from receiver operating characteristic analyses and multilevel likelihood ratios quantified test performance.


Parent report (AUCs from 0.78 to 0.84 in both age groups) outperformed teacher (AUCs 0.57 in the younger sample and 0.70 in the older sample) or adolescent measures (AUCs 0.67 [General Behavior Inventory] and 0.71 [Youth Self-Report]) at identifying bipolar disorders. Combining tests did not produce clinically meaningful classification improvement.


Parent report was more useful than teacher report or adolescent self-report on the index tests studied. Results generally replicated across both age groups. Parent report on these instruments could facilitate differential diagnosis of bipolar disorder in youths aged 5 to 17 years, especially by decreasing the rate of false-positive diagnoses.

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