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Review: questionnaires for detecting clinical depression in primary care have similar diagnostic accuracy

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 QUESTION: In primary care patients, what is the accuracy of questionnaires for diagnosing clinical depression?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Medline and a specialised registry of depression trials (1970 to July 2000).

Study selection

Published English language studies were selected if they were done in a primary care setting, administered a case-finding instrument, and obtained a criterion-based diagnosis (eg, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edition). The case-finding instrument had to have average literacy requirements, be scored without a calculator, have a depression specific component, and be evaluated in ≥1 study with ≥100 patients.

Data extraction

2 reviewers independently extracted data on the instrument, time frame of questions, score range, cut point, literacy level, administration time, ability of the …

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  • Sources of funding: San Antonio Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence; Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research.

  • For correspondence: Dr J W Williams Jr, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA. jw.williams{at}