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April 1986

Feasibility and Usefulness of Depression Screening in Medical Outpatients

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, Department of Medicine, California College of Medicine, University of California Irvine Medical Center, Orange.

Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(4):729-731. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360160157021

• Depression is common in medical outpatients, but the diagnosis is frequently missed. We introduced the Beck Depression Index into our clinic as a screening tool to determine the feasibility of depression screening, the prevalence of depression in our patients, and the clinical usefulness of the depression index. The questionnaire was easily implemented and well accepted by the 375 patients screened. Moderate or severe depression was identified in 32% of our patients. By several measures, the Beck Depression Index proved to be a highly useful clinical tool. It provided information significant enough to change the plan in 20% of the entire population of patients screened. The severity or presence of depression would probably have been missed without the screening. Depression screening should be considered in all primary care settings.

(Arch Intern Med 1986;146:729-731)

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