Martha Kubik

USPSTF: Screening Can Help Identify Anxiety and Depression in Older Children and Teens Interview with:

Martha Kubik

Dr. Kubik

Martha Kubik, Ph.D., R.N.
Professor, School of Nursing
College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
Member, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force What is the background for this study?

Response: Too many children and teens in the United States experience mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors. There is a critical need to address the mental health of children and adolescents in primary care so that they can get the support they need to thrive. What are the main findings?

Response:  The Task Force’s review of the latest evidence found that screening can help identify anxiety and depression in older children and teens who do not have any signs or symptoms so that they can receive care. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The Task Force’s review of the latest evidence found that screening can help identify anxiety and depression in older children and teens who do not have any signs or symptoms. The Task Force recommends that all children ages 8 and older should be screened for anxiety. In addition, children ages 12 and older should be screened for depression. Screening for these mental health conditions can help identify these important conditions early so that children and teens can be connected to the care they need.

While suicide is tragically a leading cause of death for older children and teens, there continues to be limited evidence about screening for suicide risk across all ages. There was also insufficient evidence to recommend for or against screening for anxiety and depression in younger children.

It’s important to note that our recommendations are for primary care clinicians, so it’s reasonable to screen kids and teens during their regular well visits. It’s also important to note that a screening test alone is not enough to diagnose anxiety or depression. If a screening test is positive, a follow-up assessment will be needed to confirm that the patient has anxiety or depression. What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: More research is needed on screening for depression and anxiety in younger children who do not have any signs or symptoms and on screening for suicide risk in all youth. Obtaining new evidence in these areas is critical to the mental health of young people and should be an important priority for future study.

In addition, the evidence is lacking for all conditions on screening and treatment based on specific demographics such as sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. In the meantime, healthcare professionals should use their clinical judgment based on individual patient circumstances when deciding whether or not to screen. Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: Most importantly, clinicians should take note of this evidence-based guidance and proactively screen all children and teens for anxiety starting at eight years old and for depression starting at 12 years old. This is an important way to help safeguard the mental health of our youngest


US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Depression and Suicide Risk in Children and Adolescents: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2022;328(15):1534–1542. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.16946

Jin J. Screening for Depression and Suicide Risk in Children and Adolescents. JAMA. 2022;328(15):1570. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.18187

Final Recommendation Statement
Depression and Suicide Risk in Children and Adolescents: Screening
October 11, 2022

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Call 988

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Last Updated on October 20, 2022 by Marie Benz MD FAAD