The Brief Problem Checklist (BPC) is a measure designed by Chorpita et al. (2010) to periodically assess the clinical progress of a child over the course of psychological treatment. The scale measures internalising and externalising problems found in children aged 7-13, and such feedback can be used by a clinician to track outcomes and to adjust treatment. The scale is presented in an interview format which contains twelve items, and there is both a child and caregiver version. The BPC is intended to be conducted via an over-the-phone interview at weekly intervals during treatment. The burden for families partaking in such frequent interviews is believed to be minimal, as Chorpita et al. (2010) found that on average the administration time takes less than one minute.
The measure was developed in the USA, and the normed sample was composed of American children (aged 7 -13 years old) who were offered treatment due to a range of problems that could be subsumed under the broad categories of anxiety, depression, or disruptive behaviour (Chorpita et al., 2010). The BPC interviews yield three scales; a Total Problems scale, and Internalising scale, and an Externalising scale. When answering the questions, children and care-givers are required to rate how true the 12 items are in reference to the previous week, using a 3-point Likert scale. Example items include: “I disobey my parents or people at school” (caregiver version: “disobedient at home or school”) and “I threaten to hurt people” (caregiver version: “threatens people”).
To create items for the BPC, Chorpita et al. (2010) applied factor analysis to both the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) and the Youth Self-Report (YSR); two instruments which are widely used and established as evidence-based measures. Items with high factor loadings across both the CBCL and YSR were chosen, leading to the identification of 14 internalising items and 20 externalising items. Items were then selected based on their ability to maximise information pertaining to the clinical change of the client. The resultant 12 items were subjected to exploratory factor analysis using maximum likelihood estimation. A two-factor solution was drawn from the following scree plot, and the factors were extracted and subjected to promax rotation. The resultant factors corresponded to the Externalising and Internalising scales of the BPC.
To determine convergent validity the scales of the BPC were correlated with corresponding scales from the CBCL and YSR (Chorpita et al., 2010). Each BPC scale (Internalising, Externalising, and Total Problems) was highly significantly correlated to scales on both the YSR (coefficients at .61 or above) and the CBCL (coefficients at .56 or above). A longitudinal examination of BPC interview data across 6 months of treatment demonstrated that the BPC is capable of significantly predicting change in related measurements of symptomology (ie. the CBCL and YSR), providing strong evidence for its clinical utility. Test-retest coefficients across an average period of 8-9 days ranged from .72 to .79 for each of the BPC subscales. The agreement of the child and caregiver versions of the scale were examined and produced correlations ranging from .19 to .31; findings which are comparable to the literature comparing parent-child symptom agreement (Chorpita et al., 2010).
The BPC can be readily accessed online and is available for both commercial and research purposes. Due to the relatively new construction of the measure and its potential to quickly and efficiently monitor clinical change in children, the BPC holds both great practical relevance and would benefit from further psychometric testing and cross-cultural validation. No major revisions of the BPC have occurred to the author’s knowledge.
Chorpita, B. F., Reise, S., Weisz, J. R., Grubbs, K., Becker, K. D., Krull, J. L., & The Research Network on Youth Mental Health. (2010). Evaluation of the Brief Problem Cheklist: Child and caregiver interviews to measure clinical progress. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(4), 526-536. doi: 10.1037/a0019602
Child version: http://www.childfirst.ucla.edu/Brief%20Problem%20Checklist%20-%20Child.pdf Parent Version: http://www.childfirst.ucla.edu/Brief%20Problem%20Checklist%20-%20Parent.pdf