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Validation of the Mood Disorder Questionnaire for Bipolar Disorders in Adolescents

Karen Dineen Wagner, M.D., Ph.D.; Robert M. A. Hirschfeld, M.D.; Graham J. Emslie, M.D.; Robert L. Findling, M.D.; Barbara L. Gracious, M.D.; and Michael L. Reed, Ph.D.


Objective: The study was designed to determine the validity of the Mood Disorder Questionnaire - Adolescent Version (MDQ-A) as a screening instrument for bipolar disorders (I, II, not otherwise specified, and cyclothymia) in an adolescent outpatient psychiatric population.

Method: 104 adolescents and their parents completed the MDQ-A. Three versions of the MDQ-A were compared: (1) self report of symptoms by adolescent, (2) attributional report-how the adolescent believed teachers or friends would report his/her symptoms, and (3) parent report of adolescent's symptoms. DSM-IV diagnosis was made based upon the clinician-administered Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Present and Lifetime Version (K-SADS-PL), a semistructured diagnostic interview. MDQ-A items were summed, yielding a score for each adolescent ranging from 0 to 13 on each of the 3 MDQ - A versions. Each possible scoring threshold, in combination with co-occurrence of symptoms and behaviors and with moderate to serious problems caused by symptoms, was crossed with the results of the K-SADS-PL diagnostic interview to assess sensitivity and specificity. The study was conducted from April 2002 to September 2003.

Results: A score of 5 or more items on the parent version yielded a sensitivity of 0.72 and specificity of 0.81, which were superior to self and attributional versions.

Conclusions: The MDQ-A completed by parents about their adolescents' symptoms may be a useful screening instrument for bipolar disorders in an adolescent psychiatric outpatient population.

(J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67:827-830)


Received Aug. 18, 2005; accepted Nov. 28, 2005. From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston (Drs. Wagner and Hirschfeld); Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas (Dr. Emslie); Department of Psychiatry, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio (Dr. Findling); Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y. (Dr. Gracious); and Vedanta Research, Chapel Hill, N.C. (Dr. Reed).

This study was supported by funding from GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Poster presented at the 157th annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, May 1-6, 2004, New York, N.Y.

Financial disclosure is listed at the end of this article.

Corresponding author and reprints: Karen Dineen Wagner, M.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555-0188 (e-mail: kwagner@utmb.edu).