Identifying developmental problems during child health reviews

Comparison of two approaches to measuring children’s developmental progress and identifying children with additional support needs used in the Scottish Universal Child Health Reviews

Health visitor

In a nutshell

Developmental concerns for children are usually assessed by health visitors during the Universal Child Health Reviews. An additional measure of children’s development - the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3) - has also been included in these reviews in recent years. This project explores how the traditional health visitor judgements compare to the ASQ-3 results for children in Scotland.


About the project

One purpose of the Universal Child Health Review is to identify children and families who might need extra support. It is hoped that providing support as early as possible helps children achieve their full potential.

Traditionally, concerns about children’s development have been identified by health visitors. Health visitors report whether they have any concern about a child’s progress and meeting developmental milestones. However, more recently a different method of assessing children’s progress was also included in the Universal Child Health Reviews. This is the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3).

So for children who have received their reviews since the introduction of this extra measure of developmental stage, the outcome of the traditional health visitor assessment and the result from the ASQ-3 will be compared. This will determine whether the different assessments agree. Agreement would mean that both assessments are equally likely to identify the same children for referral for extra support. Disagreement could indicate one assessment is more or less likely to pick up a child as requiring a referral. This might mean one measure is more sensitive, or more sensitive to a certain type of developmental concerns, for example movement/motor skills.  



Understanding whether the outcome of both of the measures is the same, will determine if the ASQ-3 tells us anything extra about childrens' support needs and development. It could also highlight that the more traditional health visitor assessment picks up something not included in the ASQ-3. This will also tell us whether recording both health visitor's overall judgement and the ASQ-3 results in future Universal Child Health Reviews is useful.



Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre


Primary project contact

Helen Corby