A review of the validity of the General Health Questionnaire in adolescent populations

Robert Tait, Gary Hulse, S.I. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To comprehensively review the validity of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) [1] with adolescents (aged 12-19). Although the GHQ has been extensively used and validated with adults and has been frequently used with adolescents, the validity data for this group are sporadic.Method: Systematic review of the English language peer-reviewed literature.Results: Eight studies were identified validating the GHQ with young people of which four included only adolescents and four studies involved young adults and adolescents. Of these eight studies, four used an English language version of the GHQ and four used a translated version.Conclusions: The GHQ has demonstrated validity with older adolescents (17 + years) from the UK and Hong Kong (Chinese translation) and with girls aged 15 in the UK, but there are few data for either gender, aged less than 15 years. Studies in Australia and Italy reported a high proportion of misclassified cases while the studies in Spain and Yugoslavia included some older subjects (20 + years). Therefore, the validity of the GHQ for adolescents in populations other than the UK and Hong Kong remains to be demonstrated.Implications: Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals need to be aware of the above limitations when using the GHQ as a screening instrument with adolescents. Further studies are required to: (i) determine the minimum age at which it can be employed, (ii) compare the use of adult versus adolescent criterion interviews, (iii) assemble relevant normative data, and (iv) establish the validity of translated versions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-557
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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