Using a Single Screening Question for Depressive Symptoms in Patients With Acute Coronary Syndrome

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Despite the prevalence of depressive symptoms and increased risk for future cardiovascular events, depressive symptoms frequently go underrecognized in patients hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Identifying an effective approach to depressive symptom screening is imperative in this population.


The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to explore the agreement between Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI-II) scores and a single screening question for depressive symptoms in 1122 patients hospitalized for ACS.


Independent-samples t tests and χ2 tests were used to compare the groups with BDI-II scores of 14 or higher and lower than 14. Three separate agreement analyses were conducted using categorized BDI-II scores (≥14, ≥20, and ≥29). Agreement of the BDI-II categories with the responses to the single screening question was assessed with the simple κ statistic. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated using the BDI-II categories as the criterion standards for depressive symptom screening.


The agreement analysis revealed a moderate level of agreement (κ coefficient = 0.42) between the BDI-II scores of 14 or higher and the single screening question. Of the participants who reported a BDI-II score of 14 or higher, 61.65% answered yes to the single screening question (sensitivity, 0.62). For those who had BDI-II scores of lower than 14, a total of 82% responded no to the single screening question (specificity, 0.82). When using higher BDI-II scores to define depressive symptoms (≥20 and ≥29), the level of agreement decreased, whereas sensitivity increased to 0.76 and 0.90, with a trade-off in specificity (0.79 and 0.74, respectively).


These results suggest that the single screening question for depressive symptoms correctly identifies depressive symptoms 62% of the time but inappropriately identifies depressive symptoms 18% of the time in patients hospitalized for ACS. This suggests that the single screening question for depressive symptoms may be used with caution to initially screen patients with ACS, who can then undergo a more thorough assessment for clinical depression.

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