Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Projects

Improving Depression Screening for Adolescents in a Primary Care Setting in Texas

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Degree Program

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Degree Track

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Year Degree Awarded



Month Degree Awarded



adolescent depression, teen suicide, adolescent depression screening in primary care, prevention, nursing


Dr. Pamela Aselton PhD, MPH, FNP-BC


Background: Among adolescents in the United States depression has become more prevalent with poor outcomes in patients who don’t receive treatment. More effective and accessible treatment for depression is needed and evidence supports the use of a validated screening tool in primary care to identify depression and decrease the potential for suicide in adolescents.

Methods: This quality improvement project included the implementation of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-A) for Adolescents and protocol with referral to in-house counseling and/or a mental-health specialist for treatment in a pediatric primary care clinic in Texas. The total number of patients screened, gender, ethnicity, number of patients referred to in-house counseling and/or mental-health specialists, and the number sent for emergency treatment were tracked.

Results: At the end of the 8-week period, a total of 273 adolescent patients were screened for depression. Eighty-one patients were referred for in-house counseling and 55 were referred to mental-health specialists for evaluation and treatment. Providers were surveyed on the use of the PHQ-A screening tool and the tool’s ability to assess for depression in teens within their clinical setting. Results of the survey showed that 100% of the providers agreed that the use of the PHQ-A was helpful in assessing for depression within their clinical setting.

Conclusion: Screening for teen depression in primary care helps to increase access to mental-health treatment, decreasing the incidence of suicides among teens.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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