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Am J Prev Med. 2015 Oct;49(4):526-33. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.03.039. Epub 2015 Jul 29.

Screening for Depression in African-American Churches.

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Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York. Electronic address:
Department of Epidemiology, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York.
St. Paul Community Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York.
Fathers Incorporated, Dunwoody, Georgia.
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, Columbia University, New York, New York.
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York.



Substantial racial/ethnic disparities exist in the identification and management of major depression. Faith-Based Health Promotion interventions reduce disparities in health screenings for numerous medical conditions. However, the feasibility of systematically screening for depression in faith-based settings has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of using a validated instrument to screen for depression in African-American churches.


Participants were recruited between October and November 2012 at three predominantly African-American churches in New York City. A participatory research approach was used to determine screening days. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was administered to 122 participants. Positive depression screen was defined as a PHQ-9 score ≥10. Descriptive statistics were used to report sample characteristics, prevalence of participants who screened positive, and history of help seeking. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine the association of positive depression screen and sociodemographic characteristics. Initial analyses were conducted in 2013, with additional analyses in 2014.


The prevalence estimate for positive depression screen was 19.7%. More men (22.5%) screened positive than women (17.7%). Total household income was inversely related to positive depression screen. A similar percentage of respondents had previously sought help from primary care providers as from clergy.


It was feasible to screen for depression with the PHQ-9 in African-American churches. The prevalence of positive depression screen was high, especially among black men. Churches may be an important setting in which to identify depressive symptoms in this underserved population.

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