Effects of Language and Ethnic Status on Reliability and Validity of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale with Psychiatric Patients

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Data from 562 psychiatric patients were analyzed to assess the effects of ethnic status (Anglo/Mexican origin) and language (English/Spanish) on the reliability and validity of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale. The results indicate no systematic variation in either reliability (test-retest, internal consistency), dimensionality, or ability of the CES-D Scale to detect clinical depression among Anglos or persons of Mexican origin classified according to language use as Spanish dominant, English dominant, or bilingual. However, the data indicate that this particular screening instrument does not adequately discriminate between patients with clinical depression and those without depression. These results corroborate several recent studies that question the utility of the CES-D Scale as a depression screening instrument. Taken together, the available evidence suggests that the ability of the CES-D Scale to detect major depression is so limited that further use of the instrument as a screening scale would seem unwarranted, at least in treatment settings.

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