CCH/HSRC Methods Seminar: Methods to improve the efficiency of screening for multiple mental disorders

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Date(s) - May 7, 2013
12:00 AM - 3:00 PM

UCLA Center for Community Health


CCH/HSRC Methods Seminar – UCLA-Semel Institute Center for Community Health – UCLA-Semel Institute Health Services Research Center


Methods to improve the efficiency of screening for multiple mental disorders 

Presented by:


Philip Batterham, MPH, PhD

Fellow in Mental Health Research, Australian National University

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
2pm – 3pm

Center for Community Health, UCLA Wilshire Center
10920 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 350, Conference Room

We will begin promptly at 2:00 p.m.




Screening for mental disorders can increase help seeking and directly link individuals with appropriate services. However, there is a need to develop brief, accurate screening instruments for assessing multiple mental disorders. Two-stage hierarchical screening, consisting of brief pre-screening followed by a battery of disorder-specific scales for those who meet diagnostic criteria, may increase the efficiency of screening without sacrificing precision. Four hierarchical methods to rapidly identify individuals who would benefit from comprehensive screening will be presented. These methods were tested using two online community-based adult Australian cohorts (N = 2028). Results indicate that using the Kessler-6 psychological distress scale is an inefficient method of identifying candidates for full screening. However, two decision tree approaches and an item gating approach increased screening efficiency considerably, with a reduction in mean items presented of up to 54% and close to 100% sensitivity. Findings will be discussed in the context of the development of adaptive screening methods using Item Response Theory and similar approaches. Hierarchical screening and other adaptive screening methods show potential for considerable increases in the efficiency of screening for multiple mental disorders.



Philip Batterham is a Fellow in Mental Health Research at the Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University, in Canberra, Australia. He is Chief Investigator on a grant to develop and validate adaptive screening measures for mental disorders. His other research interests include developing online programs to prevent mental disorders, assessing suicide risk, and stigma. He worked at the UCLA Center for Community Health from 2001-2006.