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BMJ. 2011 Aug 18;343:d4825. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d4825.

Risk of bias from inclusion of patients who already have diagnosis of or are undergoing treatment for depression in diagnostic accuracy studies of screening tools for depression: systematic review.

Author information

  • 1Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. brett.thombs@mcgill.ca

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To investigate the proportion of original studies included in systematic reviews and meta-analyses on the diagnostic accuracy of screening tools for depression that appropriately exclude patients who already have a diagnosis of or are receiving treatment for depression and to determine whether these systematic reviews and meta-analyses evaluate possible bias from the inclusion of such patients.

DESIGN:

Systematic review.

DATA SOURCES:

Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase, ISI, SCOPUS, and Cochrane databases were searched from 1 January 2005 to 29 October 2009.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR SELECTING STUDIES:

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses in any language that reported on the diagnostic accuracy of screening tools for depression.

RESULTS:

Only eight of 197 (4%) unique publications from 17 systematic reviews and meta-analyses specifically excluded patients who already had a diagnosis of or were receiving treatment for depression. No systematic reviews or meta-analyses commented on possible bias from the inclusion of such patients, even though 10 reviews used quality assessment tools with items to rate risk of bias from composition of the sample of patients.

CONCLUSIONS:

Studies of the accuracy of screening tools for depression rarely exclude patients who already have a diagnosis of or are receiving treatment for depression, a potential bias that is not evaluated in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. This could result in inflated estimates of accuracy on which clinical practice and preventive care guidelines are often based, a problem that takes on greater importance as the rate of diagnosed and treated depression in the population increases.

PMID:
21852353
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3191850
Free PMC Article
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