Use of the SF-36v2 Health Survey as a Screen for Risk of Major Depressive Disorder in a US Population-based Sample and Subgroup With Chronic Pain

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Study Objectives:

To assess the feasibility of using the SF-36v2 mental health (MH) and mental component summary (MCS) scores for classification of risk for major depressive disorder (MDD), and to determine cut-off scores based on the sensitivity and specificity in a general US representative sample, and a chronic pain subpopulation.


Data were analyzed from the 2013 US National Health and Wellness Survey (adults 18 y old and above; N=75,000), and among a chronic pain subpopulation (n=6679). Risk of MDD was a score ≥10 on the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Logistic regression modeling was used to predict at risk for MDD and receiver operating characteristic curves were produced.


The total sample had MH scores of 48.8 and MCS scores of 48.9, similar to the normative US population mean. Percent of respondents with a PHQ-9≥10 were 15.0% and 29.1% for the total sample and chronic pain subpopulation, respectively. Cut-off scores (PHQ-9≥10) in the total sample for the MH and MCS were 43.0 and 46.0, respectively. Specificities for the MH and MCS were 77.8% and 76.1%; sensitivities were 84.9% and 88.1%, respectively. Among the subpopulation with chronic pain, cut-off scores for the MH and MCS were 40.4 and 43.1, respectively. Corresponding specificities for the MH and MCS were 77.9% and 73.9%; sensitivities were 78.3% and 83.4%, respectively.


The SF-36v2 was found to have sufficient specificity and sensitivity to categorize participants at risk for MDD. If no depression questionnaire is available, it is feasible to use the SF-36v2 to characterize the MH of populations.

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