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Glob Ment Health (Camb). 2016 Jun 20;3:e20. doi: 10.1017/gmh.2016.14. eCollection 2016.

Validity and diagnostic accuracy of the Luganda version of the 9-item and 2-item Patient Health Questionnaire for detecting major depressive disorder in rural Uganda.

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Butabika Hospital/Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda.
Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa.



The prevalence of depression in rural Ugandan communities is high and yet detection and treatment of depression in the primary care setting is suboptimal. Short valid depression screening measures may improve detection of depression. We describe the validation of the Luganda translated nine- and two-item Patient Health Questionnaires (PHQ-9 and PHQ-2) as screening tools for depression in two rural primary care facilities in Eastern Uganda.


A total of 1407 adult respondents were screened consecutively using the nine-item Luganda PHQ. Of these 212 were randomly selected to respond to the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview diagnostic questionnaire. Descriptive statistics for respondents' demographic characteristics and PHQ scores were generated. The sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive values (PPVs), and area under the ROC curve were determined for both the PHQ-9 and PHQ-2.


The optimum trade-off between sensitivity and PPV was at a cut-off of ≧5. The weighted area under the receiver Operating Characteristic curve was 0.74 (95% CI 0.60-0.89) and 0.68 (95% CI 0.54-0.82) for PHQ-9 and PHQ-2, respectively.


The Luganda translation of the PHQ-9 was found to be modestly useful in detecting depression. The PHQ-9 performed only slightly better than the PHQ-2 in this rural Ugandan Primary care setting. Future research could improve on diagnostic accuracy by considering the idioms of distress among Luganda speakers, and revising the PHQ-9 accordingly. The usefulness of the PHQ-2 in this rural population should be viewed with caution.


Depression screening; PHQ-9; validation

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