Selective Responsiveness of Chronically Ill Children to Assessments of Depression

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Journal of Personality Assessment






Taylor & Francis

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Many investigators have noted that depression is a common symptom among pediatric cancer patients. However, prevalence rates vary widely across studies This variation in prevalence rates may be due, in part, to selective reporting of patients based on measure, used and environmental cues. In this study, we evaluated 50 chronically ill pediatric patients (19 cancer and 31 diabetic patients) for their use of selective reporting of depression. Factors in the 2 x 2 design were Intervention (disclosure videotape and cartoon videotape) and Examiner (familiar examiner and unfamiliar examiner). In the intervention manipulation, subjects were shown either a videotape prompting the child that self-disclosure was appropriate or a tape of a cartoon (control condition). In the Examiner manipulation, subjects were administered the experimental measures by either a familiar (parent) or unfamiliar (research assistant) examiner. Dependent variables were the Children's Depression inventory (CDI; Kovacs, 1981), the Depression scale of the Roberts Apperception Test for Children (RATC; McArthur & Roberts, 1982), and a depression measure taken from the Child Behavior Checktist (CBCL; Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983). As hypothesized, the Examiner x intervention interaction revealed that children who did not view the disclosure videotape and who were tested by an unfamiliar examiner gave significantly lower self-reports of depression on the CDI than children in the other conditions. However, parent and child projective reports of depression did not vary as a function of experimental condition. The results are interpreted as selective responding on the part of pediatric patients. Limitations of assessing internal psychological states in children are discussed.