Diagnostic tools

Screening tools

Here are a some helpful self-assessments and screening tools you can use with your patients.


Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Parent Rating Scale (VDARS), ages 4-17 years, has 44 questions grouped into scales for attention deficit subtypes, oppositional-defiant/conduct disorder, and anxiety/depression.


GAD-7 (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) is a seven-question screening tool that identifies whether a complete assessment for anxiety is indicated. 

GAD-7 SCORING: Scores of 5, 10, and 15 are taken as the cut-off points for mild, moderate and severe anxiety, respectively. When used as a screening tool, further evaluation is recommended when the score is 10 or greater.

Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED), ages 8-18 years, has 41 questions and includes sub-scales for types of anxiety. A parent can complete for their child.


Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised (M-CHAT-R), ages 16-30 months, is a 20-question parent-informed screener for toddlers. The results indicate if a further evaluation for autism may be needed.

Bipolar disorder

The Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) includes 13 questions associated with bipolar disorder symptoms.

Child and adolescent-specific issues

Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC-17) is a brief screening questionnaire used by pediatricians and other health professionals to identify psychosocial problems and improve treatment in children. It is available in many languages.


Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) is the most common screening tool to identify depression. It is available in multiple languages, accessible at phqscreeners.com.

Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC), ages 6-17 years, is a 20-item self-report questionnaire for young people. It asks them to rate how many depressive symptoms they have experienced in the last week and is useful for tracking depressive symptoms over time.

Drug and alcohol abuse (including prescription drug abuse)

CAGE-AID is a commonly used, four-question tool used to screen for drug and alcohol use. The CAGE is a quick questionnaire to help determine if an alcohol and/or drug assessment is needed. If a person answers yes to one or more questions, a complete substance use assessment is advised.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

PCPs may use the five-item Primary Care PTSD Screen (PCPS) or the 20-item self-report questionnaire, PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5).

Suicidal Ideation

Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), ages six years and up, comprises of 2-6 questions that can be administered in the field for risk level.