Changes to the Healthy Kids Check: will we get it right?

Michael F Daubney, Cate M Cameron and Paul A Scuffham
Med J Aust 2013; 198 (9): 475-477. || doi: 10.5694/mja12.11455

Are we at risk of over-medicalising and under-researching?

In 2011, the Australian Government announced plans to change the voluntary Healthy Kids Check (HKCheck) during 2012–2013,1 by lowering the age of screening to children aged 3 years and incorporating elements of social and emotional wellbeing. The HKCheck will be conducted by general practitioners, practice nurses and Aboriginal health workers, and will cost about $11 million over 5 years.2

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • Michael F Daubney1
  • Cate M Cameron2
  • Paul A Scuffham3

  • School of Medicine, Griffith University – Logan Campus, Brisbane, QLD.


We wish to acknowledge Dr James Scott for his assistance in the preparation of this article.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. National Mental Health Reform 2011-12. (accessed Apr 2013).
  • 2. Butler M. Child health experts to develop new healthy kids check [media release]. 30 September 2011. (accessed Mar 2013).
  • 3. Butler M. Improved kids' health check to begin [media release]. 3 March 2013. mr-yr13-mb-mb005.htm (accessed Apr 2013).
  • 4. Newman L. Getting in early: identification of risk in early childhood. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2012; 46: 697-699.
  • 5. Zeanah CH Jr, Zeanah PD. The scope of infant mental health. In: Zeanah CH Jr, editor. Handbook of infant mental health. 3rd ed. New York: Guilford Press, 2009: 5-21.
  • 6. Barker DJP, Cooper C, Rose CP. Epidemiology in medical practice. 5th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1998: 122-130.
  • 7. Jellinek MS, Murphy JM. The recognition of psychosocial disorders in pediatric office practice: the current status of the pediatric symptom checklist. J Dev Behav Pediatr 1990; 11: 273-278.
  • 8. Achenbach TM, Rescorla LA. Manual for the ASEBA preschool forms and profiles: an integrated system of multi-informant assessment. Burlington, Vt: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families, 2000.
  • 9. Briggs-Gowan MJ, Carter AS, Irwin JR, et al. The Brief Infant–Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment: screening for social-emotional problems and delays in competence. J Pediatr Psychol 2004; 29: 143-155.
  • 10. Caselman TD, Self PA. Assessment instruments for measuring young children’s social-emotional behavioral development. Children Schools 2008; 30: 103-115. doi: 10.1093/cs/30.2.103.
  • 11. Minnesota Department of Health. Developmental and social–emotional screening of young children (0–6 years of age) in Minnesota. Ages and Stages Questionnaire – Social Emotional (ASQ-SE). (accessed Mar 2013).
  • 12. Glascoe FP. Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS). Nolensville, Tenn:, LLC, 2010. (accessed Mar 2013).
  • 13. Kowalenko NM. The three year old social and emotional well-being check is good news. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2012; 46: 928-931.
  • 14. Carter AS, Wagmiller RJ, Gray SA, et al. Prevalence of DSM-IV disorder in a representative, healthy birth cohort at school entry: sociodemographic risks and social adaptation. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2010; 49: 686-698.
  • 15. Brassard MR, Boehm AE. Assessment of emotional development and behavior problems. In: Preschool assessment: principles and practices. New York: Guilford Press, 2007: 508-576.
  • 16. Scheeringa MS, Zeanah CH, Myers L, Putnam FW. Predictive validity in a prospective follow-up of PTSD in preschool children. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2005; 44: 899-906.
  • 17. Beyer T, Postert C, Müller JM, Furniss T. Prognosis and continuity of child mental health problems from preschool to primary school: results of a four-year longitudinal study. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 2012; 43: 533-543.
  • 18. Morgan PL, Farkas G, Wu Q. Kindergarten predictors of recurring externalizing and internalizing psychopathology in the third and fifth grades. J Emot Behav Disord 2009; 17: 67-79. doi: 10.1177/1063426608324724.
  • 19. Campbell SB, Spieker S, Burchinal M, Poe MD; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. Trajectories of aggression from toddlerhood to age 9 predict academic and social functioning through age 12. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2006; 47: 791-800.
  • 20. Najman JM, Heron MA, Hayatbakhsh MR, et al. Screening in early childhood for risk of later mental health problems: a longitudinal study. J Psychiatr Res 2008; 42: 694-700.
  • 21. Bayer JK, Ukoumunne OC, Mathers M, et al. Development of children’s internalising and externalising problems from infancy to five years of age. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2012; 46: 659-668.
  • 22. Knudsen EI, Heckman JJ, Cameron JL, Shonkoff JP. Economic, neurobiological, and behavioral perspectives on building America’s future workforce. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2006; 103: 10155-10162.
  • 23. Bakermans-Kranenburg MJ, van IJzendoorn MH, Juffer F. Less is more: meta-analyses of sensitivity and attachment interventions in early childhood. Psychol Bull 2003; 129: 195-215.
  • 24. Jensen PS, Goldman E, Offord D, et al. Overlooked and underserved: “action signs” for identifying children with unmet mental health needs. Pediatrics 2011; 128: 970-979.
  • 25. Weitzman CC, Leventhal JM. Screening for behavioral health problems in primary care. Curr Opin Pediatr 2006; 18: 641-648.
  • 26. Jureidini J, Raven M. Healthy Kids Check: lack of transparency and misplaced faith in the benefits of screening. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2012; 46: 924-927.
  • 27. Centre for Community Child Health. Australian Early Development Index: building better communities for children. Final evaluation report, 2007. (accessed Mar 2013).


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.