Assessing Depression With Patient Health Questionnaire Over Time Improves Care

Patients with and without a primary diagnosis of depression had increased PHQ-9 scores at intake and experienced a significant decrease in symptoms.

Treatment significantly improved Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores, which reflects an improvement in depressive symptoms between intake and discharge with sociodemographic differences similar to those already found in outpatient and cross-sectional samples, according to study results presented at Psych Congress 2022, held from September 17 to 20, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Researchers sought to evaluate the implementation of depression screening with the PHQ-9 in inpatient psychiatric care. They conducted a study in the Oceans Healthcare group of psychiatric hospitals in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Data from 2963 inpatients were collected between January and June 2021 with a completed PHQ-9 at intake and discharge were analyzed.

Social workers, mental health counselors, and other mental health professionals administered PHQ-9 screenings. Diagnosis-based and sociodemographic variables in relation to intake, discharge and change in PHQ-9 scores were also assessed.

The sample sociodemographics of the study participants was as follows:

  • Women (50.5%);
  • White (75.5%);
  • Black (24.0%);
  • Hispanic (92.0%);
  • Adolescent (11.7%);
  • Adult (66.1%); and
  • Older adult (22.2%).
The PHQ-9 is a useful tool to assess depressive symptoms across treatment and identify risk within certain socio-demographic groups, allowing for more specialized care.

A primary diagnosis of nondepression and depression was observed in 50.8% and 47.1% of study participants, respectively.

Researchers found that from intake to discharge, PHQ-9 scores decreased in the following groups:

  • Men (-9.82);
  • Women (-11.26);
  • White (-10.78);
  • Black (-9.12);
  • Hispanic (-13.36);
  • Non-Hispanic (-10.31);
  • Adolescent (-13.24);
  • Adult (-10.99); and
  • Older adult (-7.83).

Overall, the researchers found the screening process with the PHQ-9 to be feasible, and described it as “a useful tool to assess depressive symptoms across treatment and identify risk within certain [sociodemographic] groups, allowing for more specialized care.”

Study authors conclude, “Patients with and without a primary diagnosis of depression had elevated PHQ-9 scores at intake and experienced a significant decrease in symptoms across treatment, suggesting that screening is useful for inpatients with depressive and [nondepressive] primary diagnoses.”

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor.

References:

Jeter J, Boothe M, Holcomb J, Lewis M, Jellinek M. Improving patient outcomes with the PHQ-9 in a longitudinal sample of psychiatric inpatients. Abstract presented at: Psych Congress 2022, September 17-20, 2022; New Orleans, LA. Poster 90.