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J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2012 Jan;3(1):6-11. doi: 10.4103/0976-3147.91922.

Assessment of mental disorders using the patient health questionnaire as a general screening tool in western Nigeria: A community-based study.

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  • 1Department of Community Medicine and Primary Care, College of Health Sciences, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, Nigeria.



Screening at the community level will provide keys to promoting health and preventing diseases at the community level and serve as the fulcrum for timely detection and intervention. This study aims to assess the prevalence and nature of mental disorder among the general population using the patient health questionnaire (PHQ). It also compares the use of PHQ and GHQ as general screening tools for mental disorders.


This community-based study is cross sectional in design. Multistage sampling technique was used to obtain a representative sample of the communities. The PHQ and GHQ-12 questionnaires were concurrently administered by health care workers that were nondoctors to screen for psychiatric symptoms.


A total of 758 participants took part in the study, 496 (65.4%) of the subjects had a form of psychopathology or the other using PHQ and 143 (18.9%) using GHQ questionnaire (χ(2) = 20.92, P = 0.000). Three hundred and thirty one subjects (43.7%) met the criteria for Somatoform disorder but 6.0% ever treated at PHC, 269 (35.5%) for depression and 4.8% ever treated, 127 (16.8%) for panic disorder and 5.5% ever treated, while 165 (21.8%) for general anxiety and 4.8% ever treated. Predictors of psychopathology were individuals who were singles (OR = 0.64, CI = 0.49-0.93) concerns about their health (OR = 3.06, CI = 2.06-4.56), worried about finance (OR = 1.84, CI = 1.27-2.67), worried about family life (OR = 2.68, CI = 1.61-4.72), and stressed at work (OR = 1.16, CI = 1.06-1.28).


There is a high prevalence of psychopathology at the community level in this African population and few had ever been treated. PHQ as a general screening tool has a higher false-positive value compared to GHQ when used by nondoctors. PHQ should be used as an instrument to screen for specific mental disorders rather than a general screening tool for psychiatric morbidity at the community level.


Assessment; mental disorders; patient health questionnaire; screening tool; western Nigeria

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