Is the Beck Depression Inventory suitable for screening major depression in different phases of the disease?

Nord J Psychiatry. 2004;58(1):49-53. doi: 10.1080/08039480310000798.


This prospective study aimed to assess the suitability of the 21-item Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-21) as a screening method for current episodes of major depressive disorder in different phases of the disease. In a sample of treatment-seeking outpatients (n=125), a structured interview method (SCID) was used twice with a 2-year interval to screen whether the patient had a current episode of major depressive disorder. The validity of the BDI-21 was also analysed by means of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. The results showed that with a cut-off point of 14/15 the BDI-21 can be used to indicate the presence of a major depressive episode regardless of the phase of the major depressive disorder. The sensitivity and specificity were quite satisfactory with this cut-off point. The areas under the ROC curves were large (0.81 at baseline and 0.93 at follow-up). The same BDI-21 cut-off point is suitable for screening major depression among outpatients in any phase of the disease.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*