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The PHQ-9 works well as a screening but not diagnostic instrument for depressive disorder

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Is the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) an accurate tool to screen for, diagnose and measure the severity of depressive disorder in groups that are at high risk for depressive disorder?


A total of 664 high-risk patients aged between 18 and 70 years selected from patients enrolled at 6 health centres with 23 GPs and falling into one of 3 high-risk groups for depressive disorder: patients with unexplained somatic complaints; frequent attenders, defined as patients with consultation rates in the highest 10% in the year prior to study allocation; patients with a new mental health problem up to 3 months prior to the selection date. All participants completed the PHQ screening questionnaire.


Amsterdam; primary care patients from two academic medical centres, The Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam and the Radbound University Nijmegen Medical centre; recruited from March 2006 through July 2007.


The Patient Health Questionnaire-9, which evaluates the presence of one of the nine DSM-IV criteria of a depressive episode in the past 2 weeks: depressed mood, anhedonia, having …

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  • Sources of funding The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) Mental Health Program and the academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam


  • Competing interests WR is the co-author of the Hamilton Depression Inventory, published by Psychological Assessment Resources.

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