Research Article: Screening for depressive symptoms in adolescents at school: New validity evidences on the short form of the Reynolds Depression Scale

Date Published: February 21, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Javier Ortuño-Sierra, Rebeca Aritio-Solana, Félix Inchausti, Edurne Chocarro de Luis, Beatriz Lucas Molina, Alicia Pérez de Albéniz, Eduardo Fonseca-Pedrero, Iratxe Puebla.


The main purpose of the present study was to assess the depressive symptomatology and to gather new validity evidences of the Reynolds Depression Scale-Short form (RADS-SF) in a representative sample of youths. The sample consisted of 2914 adolescents with a mean age of 15.85 years (SD = 1.68). We calculated the descriptive statistics and internal consistency of the RADS-SF scores. Also, confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) at the item level and successive multigroup CFAs to test measurement invariance, were conducted. Latent mean differences across gender and educational level groups were estimated, and finally, we studied the sources of validity evidences with other external variables. The level of internal consistency of the RADS-SF Total score by means of Ordinal alpha was .89. Results from CFAs showed that the one-dimensional model displayed appropriate goodness of-fit indices with CFI value over .95, and RMSEA value under .08. In addition, the results support the strong measurement invariance of the RADS-SF scores across gender and age. When latent means were compared, statistically significant differences were found by gender and age. Females scored 0.347 over than males in Depression latent variable, whereas older adolescents scored 0.111 higher than the younger group. In addition, the RADS-SF score was associated with the RADS scores. The results suggest that the RADS-SF could be used as an efficient screening test to assess self-reported depressive symptoms in adolescents from the general population.

Partial Text

Adolescence is a particularly important developmental stage for socio-emotional development, but it is also marked by the emergence of mental health problems like stress and anxiety, psychotic spectrum disorders or depressive disorders among others [1,2]. Specifically, major depressive disorder (MDD) is considered one of the leading causes of disability among young people aged 10–24 years [3]. MDD in children and adolescents affects different spheres and has been associated with poor academic performance, substance abuse, attempted and completed suicide, and an increased risk of suffering depression during adulthood [4,5]. Overall, the childhood and adolescent prevalence rates fall within the range of 3–8% [6,7]. In addition, between 20% and 50% of adolescents exhibit subclinical levels of depression [8,9]. Thus, efforts are currently aimed at early detection and treatment of children and adolescents with depressive symptoms that may delay or prevent the onset of the clinical outcome. With this regard, we need brief, well-validated, and psychometrically sound assessment tools.

The main purpose of the present study was to study the psychometric properties of the RADS-SF [44] in a large sample of adolescents. We thus estimated the reliability of the scores, examined the internal structure and MI across gender and age of the RADS-SF scores, and gathered different sources of validity evidence with other measures. Results found in the study show that the RADS-SF scores has adequate psychometric properties in this sample and, therefore, that it is a useful instrument that could be used to evaluate self-reported depressive symptoms in non-clinical populations of adolescents.