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The predictive power of depression screening procedures for veterans with coronary artery disease

Authors Shankman SA, Nadelson, McGowan, Sovari A, Vidovich

Received 23 December 2011

Accepted for publication 8 February 2012

Published 17 April 2012 Volume 2012:8 Pages 233—238


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Stewart A Shankman1*, Jeffrey Nadelson2*, Sarah Kate McGowan1, Ali A Sovari2, Mladen I Vidovich2
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Illinois, 2Department of Cardiology, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Abstract: Depression leads to a worse outcome for patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). Thus, accurately identifying depression in CAD patients is imperative. In many veterans affairs (VA) hospitals, patients are screened for depression once a year using the patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9). Although the PHQ-9 is generally considered a specific and sensitive measure of depression, there is reason to believe that these screening procedures may miss a large number of cases of depression within CAD patients and cardiology patients more generally. The goal of this study was to provide data as to the predictive power of this depression screening procedure by (a) comparing the prevalence rate of depression identified by the PHQ-9 to known prevalence rates and (b) examining whether patients identified as “depressed” also had conditions that consistently co-occur with depression (eg, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], other medical issues). Participants were 813 consecutive patients who received an angiogram in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at a large VA Medical Center. Prevalence of depression was 6.9% in the overall sample and less than 6% when the sample was restricted to CAD patients with significant stenosis. Depression was significantly associated with PTSD, smoking, and alcohol problems. However, depression was not associated with other medical problems such as diabetes, renal failure, peripheral vascular disease, or anemia. In conclusion, the low prevalence rate of depression and lack of associations with comorbid medical problems may suggest that the VA’s depression screening procedures have low sensitivity for identifying depression in CAD patients. It is recommended that clinicians treating CAD regularly screen for depression and do not rely on archival depression screens.

Keywords: depression screening, coronary artery disease, PHQ-9, veterans

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