Concordance between the PHQ-9 and the HSCL-20 in depressed primary care patients

J Affect Disord. 2007 Apr;99(1-3):139-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2006.09.002. Epub 2006 Oct 16.


Background: Two instruments commonly used in primary care research to measure depressive severity are the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-20 (HSCL-20). However, there is little information regarding the relationship between clinical information derived from these scales. The present study investigates the psychometric properties of the PHQ-9 and HSCL-20, determines the degree of instrument concordance, and describes the factor structure of the HSCL-20.

Methods: A secondary data analysis from a randomized controlled trial was performed. A total of 405 primary care patients with major depressive disorder and/or dysthymia were administered the PHQ-9 and the HSCL-20 when recruited for the study.

Results: Good internal consistency reliability estimates were obtained for both scales (PHQ-9 alpha=0.803; HSCL-20 alpha=0.837). All PHQ-9 inter-item and corrected item-total correlations showed that no item detracted from overall scale functioning. HSCL-20 items assessing overeating, poor appetite, and sexual interest were poorly correlated with other items and with the total scale score. A positive, moderate strength relationship was found between the instruments (r=0.54, p<0.0001). Exploratory factor analysis of the HSCL-20 yielded a six-factor structure, which accounted for almost 63% of the variance in total score. The largest contribution to common variance in the scale was provided by an "anxiety and self-reproach" factor.

Conclusions: PHQ-9 and HSCL-20 total scores were moderately correlated. Although the HSCL-20 is utilized as a measure of depression severity, it may lack sufficient specificity to be an accurate reflection of depression status per se.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Statistics as Topic
  • United States