Screening for psychosocial risk factors has been limited by lack of a structured approach. The purpose of this study was to assess the utility of a self-administered questionnaire compared with routine history as recorded in the medical record in screening for risk factors for dysfunctional parenting in an urban pediatric clinic. English-speaking parents were offered questionnaires in the waiting room. In addition to routine demographic and medical questions, the questionnaries contained standard screening instruments for substance abuse, depression, self-esteem, and social support, as well as questions about domestic violence, homelessness, and parental history of abuse as a child. Medical records were reviewed separately. Of the 114 mothers who returned questionnaires, the response rate for sensitive questions such as income was ≥85%. Compared with the medical record, the questionnaire identified significantly more mothers with possible substance abuse, depression, low self-esteem, and/or history of abuse as a child (P < .01 for each). Compared with what is usually recorded in the medical record, self-administered questionnaires yield substantial additional information regarding psychosocial risk factors for dysfunctional parenting. Such questionnaires should be considered for routine psychosocial screening in clinics serving high-risk populations.
- Received August 21, 1990.
- Accepted April 29, 1991.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics