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The Patient Health Questionnaire 2-item is a rapid, sensitive and specific screening tool for identifying adolescents with major depression

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Is the Patient Health Questionnaire 2-item depression screen (PHQ-2) effective as a brief screening tool for depression among adolescents?


3775 adolescents (13–17 years old) who attended a group health facility in the previous 12 months. The adolescents were randomly selected and sent a brief 10-item questionnaire, including the PHQ-2. Of those selected, 2291 (61%) completed the PHQ-2, and 281 (12%) screened positive for possible depression using the optimal PHQ-2 cut-off for major depression in adults (score ≥3). Based on the results of this screen, 499 adolescents were selected for telephone interview: 271 with PHQ-2 scores ≥3 and 228, age- and gender-matched adolescents, with PHQ-2 scores ≤2.


US primary care setting; enrolment September 2007 to June 2008.


The PHQ-2 administered over the telephone. The PHQ-2 questions assess how frequently the individual had (1) a depressed mood and/or (2) lack of pleasure in usual activities in the last 2 weeks. Frequency is rated on a Likert scale from 0 (not at all) …

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  • Sources of funding No external funding.


  • Competing interests None.

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