Screening Infants Through Adolescents for Social/Emotional/Behavioral Problems in a Pediatric Network

Published:October 21, 2022DOI:



      To assess changes in screening completion in a diverse, 7-clinic network after making annual screening for social/emotional/behavioral (SEB) problems the standard of care for all infant through late adolescent-aged patients and rolling out a fully automated screening system tied to the electronic medical record and patient portal.


      In 2017, the Massachusetts General Hospital made SEB screening using the age-appropriate version of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist the standard of care in its pediatric clinics for all patients aged 2.0 months to 17.9 years. Billing records identified all well-child visits between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2019. For each visit, claims were searched for billing for an SEB screen and the electronic data warehouse was queried for an electronically administered screen. A random sample of charts was reviewed for other evidence of screening. Chi-square analyses and generalized estimating equations assessed differences in screening over time and across demographic groups.


      Screening completion (billing and/or electronic) significantly increased from 2016 (37.2%) through 2019 (2017 [46.2%] vs 2018 [66.8%] vs 2019 [70.9%]; χ2 (3) =112652.33, P < .001), with an even higher prevalence found after chart reviews. Most clinics achieved screening levels above 90% by the end of 2019. Differences among demographic groups were small and dependent on whether data were aggregated at the clinic or system level.


      Following adoption of a best-practice policy and implementation of an electronic system, SEB screening increased in all age groups and clinics. Findings demonstrate that the AAP recommendation for routine psychosocial assessment is feasible and sustainable.


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