Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17 (PSC-17)

The Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17 (PSC-17) is a psychosocial screening tool designed to facilitate the recognition of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural problems so that appropriate interventions can be initiated as early as possible. It is rated by a parent or guardian on behalf of the child and is appropriate for use with children between 4 and 15 years of age. It has three subscales:

  • Internalising – a measure of internalising problems such as anxiety or depression.
  • Attention – a measure of attentional problems.
  • Externalising – a measure of externalising problems.

Validity and Reliability

The PSC-17 has been validated with 723 youth in paediatric settings with mothers as rater (Stoppelbein et al. 2012). Confirmatory factor analyses revealed three factors and cut-off scored were identified by comparison with longer standardised assessments. The PSC-17 has good internal reliability for the total score (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.89) and all three subscales (0.79, 0.83, 0.83 respectively; Gardner et al., 1999).

Normative data was collected from a sample of 322 children (aged 6-16 years of age) without any chronic illness or developmental delays from a variety of ethnic backgrounds (Stoppelbein et al., 2012). The means (and standard deviations) were as follows:

  • Total Score: Mean = 6.74 (5.62)
  • Internalising: Mean = 1.27 (1.71)
  • Attention: Mean = 2.67 (2.43)
  • Externalising: Mean = 2.78 (2.78)

Scoring and Interpretation

A total PSC-17 score of 15 or higher suggests the presence of significant behavioural or emotional problems requiring comprehensive assessment. There are also cutoff scores for three subscales that suggest a more comprehensive assessment is advisable:

  1. Internalising Subscale (Clinical cutoff = 5 or higher). Items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  2. Attention Subscale (Clinical cutoff = 7 or higher). Items 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  3. Externalising Subscale (Clinical cutoff = 7 or higher). Items 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

In addition to the raw score, a normative percentile is presented comparing the respondent’s scores to those of a healthy community sample (Stoppelbein et al., 2012). A percentile of 50 indicates the client has scored at an average (and healthy) level compared to the normative comparison group. Higher percentiles represent higher levels of reported difficulties, where a total score percentile of 92.9 or above corresponds to scores of clinical concern (15 plus).  


Gardner, W., Murphy, M., Childs, G., Kelleher, K., & Sturner, R. (1999). The PSC-17: a brief Pediatric Symptom Checklist with psychosocial problem subscales. A report from PROS and ASPN. Ambulatory Child Health, 5(3), 225–236.


Murphy, J. M., Bergmann, P., Chiang, C., Sturner, R., Howard, B., Abel, M. R., & Jellinek, M. (2016). The PSC-17: Subscale Scores, Reliability, and Factor Structure in a New National Sample. Pediatrics, 138(3).

Stoppelbein, L., Greening, L., Moll, G., Jordan, S., & Suozzi, A. (2012). Factor analyses of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist-17 with African-American and Caucasian pediatric populations. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 37(3), 348–357.