How to screen for depression and emotional problems in patients with diabetes: comparison of screening characteristics of depression questionnaires, measurement of diabetes-specific emotional problems and standard clinical assessment

Diabetologia. 2006 Mar;49(3):469-77. doi: 10.1007/s00125-005-0094-2. Epub 2006 Jan 24.


Aims/hypothesis: We compared the screening performance of different measures of depression: the standard clinical assessment (SCA); the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI); the Center of Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D); and the Problem Areas in Diabetes (PAID) questionnaire, which assesses diabetes-specific distress. We also studied the ability of these measures to detect diabetes-related distress.

Materials and methods: A total of 376 diabetic patients (37.2% type 1; 23.9% type 2 without insulin treatment, 38.8% type 2 with insulin) completed the BDI and CES-D; patients who screened positive participated in a diagnostic interview, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Also, all patients completed the PAID questionnaire. Results of the SCA that related to depression diagnosis were reviewed to correct for false negative screening results.

Results: The prevalence of clinical depression was 14.1%, with an additional 18.9% of patients receiving a diagnosis of subclinical depression. Sensitivity for clinical depression in SCA (56%) was moderate, whereas BDI, CES-D and the PAID questionnaire showed satisfactory sensitivity (87, 79 and 81%, respectively). For subclinical depression, the sensitivity of the PAID questionnaire (79%) was sufficient, whereas that of SCA (25%) was poor. All methods showed low sensitivity for the detection of diabetes-specific emotional problems (SCA 19%, CIDI 34%, BDI 60%, CES-D 49%).

Conclusions/interpretation: The screening performance of SCA for clinical and subclinical depression was modest. Additional screening for depression using the PAID or another depression questionnaire seems reasonable. The ability of depression screening measures to identify diabetes-related distress is modest, suggesting that the PAID questionnaire could be useful when screening diabetic patients for both depression and emotional problems.

MeSH terms

  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diabetes Complications / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Complications / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mass Screening / standards
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*