Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)

An Overview of this Psychological Metric

Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI)

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The Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) is psychological metric intended to evaluate the presence and severity of specific symptoms of depression in youth. This measure is designed to allow clinicians to develop a targeted treatment plan. The CDI is a self-reporting measure useful to parents, teachers, and for the client to self-report and form a comprehensive evaluation. The CDI has commonly been used in schools, private practice, guidance counselors, and in hospital pediatric centers. Although widely used, the CDI’s efficacy is controversial with regard to cultural differences. In fact the CDI has shown a propensity for not working efficiently in in cultural settings outside the United States.

The CDI was developed using an open ended questionnaire as its metric, and as such, the questionnaire is designed to illicit specific responses, which can be measured by psychologists when looking for depressive symptoms. The CDI consists of twenty-seven test factors used for determining symptoms including depression in mood, hedonic capacity, listlessness, self–evaluation, and socialization skills (Kovacs, 2011). The test is also predictive with regard to the consequences of depression such as functionality in an educational environment. The measure of these tests has shown consistency in the United States with coefficients scores ranging from .71 to .89 with various samples. But in comparative cross cultural studies the CDI has shown to be less efficient.

In the “A Confirmatory Comparison of the Factor Structure of the Children’s Depression Inventory between European, American, and African American Youth” the CDI was not unable to be predictive nor was it able to adequately diagnosis depression. The study revealed that in cross cultural settings that the CDI was inadequate and as well showed that minority groups were less likely to be assisted with the use of the CDI (Steele et al, 2006).

Along with these findings in another study “The Children’s Depression Inventory as a measure of depression in Swedish adolescents” researchers discovered,

The CDI has some, but as of yet not sufficient indications of being a valid and reliable measure of depression in adolescence and scores can be used to indicate, though not prove the absence or presence of, depression (Ivarsson et al, 2006).

In both studies the populations studied were from cultures outside the United States. Children were sampled in different age brackets and across different socioeconomic lines. The findings seemed to concur with the idea that the CDI is a useful tool for measuring depression in the Unites States but might be culturally biased. The conclusions varied but the consensus of thought is that the CDI might need modification for testing outside the United States and further evaluation and research would be needed to justify this action.


Kovacs M. (2011) Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) Retrieved from Mental Health Systems

Ivarsson T, Svalander P, Litlere O. (2006). Nord J Psychiatry. The Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) as measure of depression in Swedish adolescents. A normative study; 60(3):220–6

Steele, R. G., Little, T. D., Ilardi, S. S., Forehand, R., Brody, G. H., & Hunter, H. L. (2006). A Confirmatory Comparison of the Factor Structure of the Childrenʼs Depression Inventory between European American and African American Youth. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 15(6), 773–788. Retrieved from Phoenix Library.


Vincent Triola. Tue, Jun 01, 2021. Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) Retrieved from

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