The use of the Beck Depression Inventory to screen for depression in the general population: a preliminary analysis

J Affect Disord. 2000 Jan-Mar;57(1-3):261-5. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(99)00088-9.


Objective: The aim of the present paper is to study the performance of Beck's Depression Inventory (BDI) as a screening instrument for depressive disorders in a general population sample.

Methods: 1250 subjects, from 18 to 64 years old, were randomly selected from the Santander (Spain) municipal census. A two-stage method was used: in the first stage, all individuals selected completed the BDI; in the second, 'probable cases' (BDI cut-off>/=13) and a random 5% sample of the total sample with a BDI score less than 13 were interviewed by psychiatrists using the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN), which generates diagnoses of depressive disorders.

Results: Our data confirm the predictive value of the selected cut-off point (12/13): 100% sensitivity, 99% specificity, 0. 72 PPV, 1 NPV, and 98% overall diagnostic value. The area under ROC (AUC) was found to be 0.99. There were no statistical differences in terms of sex or age. We conclude that the BDI is a good instrument for screening depressive disorders in community surveys.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires