This Evidence Check was commissioned by the Ministry of Health to identify validated health assessment tools for physical health, mental health, development, and family violence for the Wellbeing and Health In-reach Nurse (WHIN) Coordinator program. This program is a partnership between NSW Health and the NSW Department of Education which places nurses in NSW schools to identify the health and social needs of students and coordinate early intervention and referral to services and programs.

Validated assessment tools will help the nurses to identify children at risk of academic, behavioural, emotional or health-related difficulties. This Evidence Check also aims to describe how they are used in clinical practice and barriers and enablers to their effective use.

Seventy-two assessment tools were found, but coverage of the areas affecting children’s wellbeing was uneven. Mental health had several promising tools, as did development for younger children. However, physical health and family violence did not have well-validated tools. There was little information on how they were used in clinical practice. Enablers for use included minimal training requirements, ease of administration and ready availability. Use of parental as well as teacher reports was seen as valuable.

There is a need for further work on tools for physical health and family violence. There is also a need for information on the practicalities of the chosen tools (user acceptability, licensing, costs, and training requirements) and for clear practice guidelines.


McLean K, O’Connor E, Ong R, Joseph C and Goldfeld S. Health, development and learning screening and assessment tools for children and young people aged 5–18 years: an Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute for NSW Ministry of Health, 2022.

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