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Am Heart J. 2010 May;159(5):780-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2010.02.029.

Detection of depression in cardiac inpatients: feasibility and results of systematic screening.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.



A recent American Heart Association (AHA) Prevention Committee report recommended depression screening of all coronary heart disease patients using 2- and 9-item instruments from the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2 and PHQ-9) to identify patients who may need further assessment and treatment. Our objective was to assess the feasibility and results of such screening on inpatient cardiac units.


In September 2007, the PHQ-2 was added to the nursing interview dataset on 3 cardiac units in a general hospital; this screen was completed as part of routine clinical care. Rates and results of depression screening, reasons for patients not being screened, and results of a nursing satisfaction survey were tabulated, and differences in baseline characteristics between screened and unscreened patients were analyzed via chi(2) and independent-samples t tests.


For a 12-month period, 4,783 patients were admitted to the cardiac units; 3,504 (73.3%) received PHQ-2 depression screening. Approximately 9% of screened patients had a PHQ-2 score > or =3 and were approached for further depression evaluation (PHQ-9) by a social worker; 74.1% of the positive-screen patients had a PHQ-9 score of > or =10, suggestive of major depression. Nurses (n = 66) reported high satisfaction with the screening process, and mean reported PHQ-2 screening time was 1.4 (+/-1.1) minutes.


Systematic depression screening of cardiac patients using methods outlined by the AHA Prevention Committee is feasible, well-accepted, and does not appear markedly resource-intensive. Future studies should link these methods to an efficient and effective program of depression management in this vulnerable population.

2010 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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