Department of Psychiatry; Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center
Juvenile Law | Law and Psychology | Medical Jurisprudence | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology
BACKGROUND: There is growing evidence that it is important to have well-standardized procedures for identifying the mental health needs of youths in welfare and juvenile justice institutions. One of the most widely used tools for mental health screening in the juvenile justice system is the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-second version (MAYSI-2). To contribute to the body of research examining the utility of the MAYSI-2 as a mental health screening tool; the first objective of the current study was to examine the relationship between the MAYSI-2 and the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children, Present and Lifetime version (K-SADS-PL) in a sample of Swiss youths in welfare and juvenile justice institutions using a cross-sectional design. Secondly, as the sample was drawn from the French-, German- and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland, the three languages were represented in the total sample and consequently differences between the language regions were analyzed as well. The third objective was to examine gender differences in this relationship.
METHODS: Participants were 297 boys and 149 girls (mean age = 16.2, SD = 2.5) recruited from 64 youth welfare and juvenile justice institutions in Switzerland. The MAYSI-2 was used to screen for mental health or behavioral problems that could require further evaluation. Psychiatric classification was based on the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children, Present and Lifetime version (K-SADS-PL). Binomial logistic regression analysis was used to predict (cluster of) psychiatric disorders from MAYSI-2 scales.
RESULTS: The regression analyses revealed that the MAYSI-2 scales generally related well to their corresponding homotypic (cluster of) psychiatric disorders. For example, the alcohol/drug use scale identified the presence of any substance use disorder and the suicide ideation scale identified youths reporting suicide ideation or suicide attempts. Several MAYSI-2 scales were also related to heterotypic (cluster of) psychiatric disorders. For example, the MAYSI-2 scale alcohol/drug use, was positively related to any disruptive disorder. Furthermore, the results revealed gender differences in the relationship between the MAYSI-2 and K-SADS-PL (e.g., in the boys' subsample no MAYSI-2 scale was significantly related to any affective disorder; whereas, in the girls' subsample the MAYSI-2 scales depressed-anxious and somatic complaints were significantly related to any affective disorder).
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, The MAYSI-2 seems to serve well as a first-stage screen to identify service needs for youths in welfare and juvenile justice institutions in Switzerland. Its effectiveness to identify the presence of (cluster of) psychiatric disorders differs between genders.
Gender, Juvenile justice, MAYSI-2, Mental health screening, Psychiatric disorders
DOI of Published Version
BMC Psychiatry. 2016 Sep 30;16(1):340. Link to article on publisher's site
Leenarts, L E. W.; Dolitzsch, C.; Schmeck, K.; Fegert, J. M.; Grisso, Thomas; and Schmid, M., "Relationship between Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-second version and psychiatric disorders in youths in welfare and juvenile justice institutions in Switzerland" (2016). Open Access Articles. 2942.
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