Depression Screening in Diabetes Care to Improve Outcomes: Are We Meeting the Challenge?

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Evidence-based guidelines recommend regular depression screening among individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The purpose of this study is to examine depression screening patterns among a primary care population with T2DM, through use of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).


In total, 1817 patients with T2DM were analyzed through a retrospective observational study at 2 sites, a regional health center and a federally qualified health center (FQHC). The T2DM sample was divided into those with and without a major depressive disorder (MDD) diagnosis. Depression screening rates and depression severity were assessed through the PHQ-9.


Both sites had higher rates of PHQ-9 screening among individuals with a history of MDD (64.82%) vs those without MDD (11.39%). Individuals from the FQHC without a history of depression had a higher mean PHQ-9 score (10.11) than those with a previous MDD diagnosis at both RHS and FQHC (7.16 and 9.85, respectively).


Depression screening rates among individuals with diabetes and no history of MDD were remarkably low. Patients with diabetes but no MDD diagnosis who sought health care at a FQHC clinic had more depressive symptoms than those with a history of MDD at both sites. Individuals with diabetes and who have a MDD diagnosis are much more likely to receive regular depression screening than those without MDD, which leaves a substantial proportion of patients with undetected depression. Depression screening must be enhanced for all individuals with diabetes, particularly for low-income individuals and those without a previous diagnosis of MDD.

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