Development of a Brief Screening Instrument for Detecting Depressive Disorders

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A very short (8-item), self-report measure was developed to screen for depressive disorders (major depression and dysthymia). The screener departs from traditional depressive symptom scales in that 1) individual items are differentially weighted and 2) two of the eight items concern diagnostically relevant durations of depressed mood. Analyses of data from a general population and from primary care and mental health patients showed that the screener had high sensitivity and good positive predictive value for detecting depressive disorder, especially for recent disorders and those that met full DSM-III criteria. The high predictive utility of the screener, in combination with its brevity, suggests that it may be a useful tool for screening for depression in health care settings.

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