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The purpose was to develop a short-form version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) for the identification of persons with major depressive disorder (MDD) within a population with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).Data were analyzed from 337 persons with RA. Forty-six participants met the diagnostic criteria for MDD; 291 participants were classified in the non-MDD category (including 21 participants with dysthymia and 18 participants with minor depressive disorder). A short-form version of the CES-D was developed, and multiple cutoff scores were examined.A cutoff score of ≥5 from a 9-item, short-form CES-D was found to be generally as efficient as the more commonly used full-scale cutoff score of ≥16 for classifying participants with MDD within an RA population. Although the shortened CES-D scale (cutoff score ≥5) was slightly more sensitive, it also exhibited slightly less specificity than the full-scale cutoff score of ≥16.The results suggest that a short-form CES-D can be used to screen for MDD within an RA sample with a degree of efficiency that is generally comparable to that of the full-scale instrument.