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Age Ageing. 2013 Sep;42(5):645-9. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft065. Epub 2013 Jun 11.

Validation and internal consistency of Patient Health Questionnaire-9 for major depression in Parkinson's disease.

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Behavior and Neurosciences Department, University of São Paulo, Av., Bandeirantes, 3900, Ribeirão Preto, SP 14048-900, Brazil.



depression is common in Parkinson's disease (PD), although frequently under-recognised. Among the scales used to investigate depressive features in PD, the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) has been largely used, but no specific cut-off scores for depression have been established thus far, which hinders the use of the PHQ-9 in clinical and research settings.


we assessed the discriminant validity of the PHQ-9 in order to establish the best cut-off score for the diagnosis of major depression in PD patients.


one hundred and ten patients with a diagnosis of PD without dementia were evaluated with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID), considered as the gold standard for the diagnosis of major depression. Eighty-four PD patients completed the PHQ-9, the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) and the Zung Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS).


the prevalence of current depression in the sample of PD patients was 25.5%. Maximal discrimination between depressed and non-depressed patients was reached with a cut-off score of 9 in the PHQ-9 (sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 83.1%). The internal consistency of the scale was 0.83 and, when used as a diagnostic instrument, the PHQ-9 had a sensitivity of 52.6% and specificity of 95.4%. The correlation coefficient between the PHQ-9 and the other two scales was 0.63.


the PHQ-9 is an adequate instrument for the screening-but not diagnosis-of depression in PD patients, with optimal sensitivity and specificity attained with a cut-off score of 9.


PHQ-9; Parkinson's disease; major depression; older people; psychiatric status rating scale

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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