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Introduction: One in four adults have mental health (MH) problems. Caregivers of children with feeding problems are at even higher risk for mental health (MH) problems, including depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Caregiver MH concerns have a negative impact on caregiver and child quality of life and are specifically linked to suboptimal child feeding practices. Thus, it is critical to identify caregiver MH problems in pediatric feeding settings. However, it can be challenging to comprehensively screen for caregiver MH in a busy pediatric feeding clinic. This emphasizes the importance of a feasible and brief method for screening caregiver MH. Methods: From 2019-present our multidisciplinary feeding clinic has been administering a 2-item caregiver MH questionnaire to caregivers presenting for a new visit with their child. The questionnaire asks if one or more of the primary caregivers in the home has a MH problem, and what the problem is. We descriptively evaluated these screenings compared to base rates in the literature. Results: Caregivers of 327 children were screened, and 40% of caregivers endorsed at least one caregiver in the home had a mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Among caregivers of children under the age of one year, 45% of caregivers reported MH problems (many of which were post-partum depression and anxiety). These data are in line with rates observed in the literature, indicating that roughly 40% of caregivers of children with feeding problems have MH problems. Conclusions: This two-item screener shows promise in identifying caregiver MH problems, as positive screens were similar to observed rates in the literature. However, additional research is needed to evaluate sensitivity and specificity of this measure. Although not a perfect screener, this two-item screener was quite feasible to implement, as it easily integrated into new visit paperwork. Caregivers who screen positive meet our team social worker and/or psychologist to discuss their MH concerns and connect caregivers with resources. More research is needed to refine best practices in caregiver MH screening in pediatric feeding settings. Further, given these high rates of MH problems, point of care interventions to address caregiver MH in clinic would be ideal, and would reduce barriers to seeking care in the community. This may be particularly important for caregivers of infants, given high rates of postpartum MH problems.


Gastroenterology | Pediatrics


Presented at the Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference; Phoenix, Arizona; April 7-9, 2022.

Caregiver Mental Health Screening in a Pediatric Feeding Clinic