Empirically derived psychometric screening for emotional distress in coronary artery disease patients: efficiency, efficacy, and source

J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2007 Jul-Aug;22(4):320-5. doi: 10.1097/01.JCN.0000278954.44759.3a.


Background and research objectives: Multiple types of evidence implicate emotional distress as a cause of adverse outcomes in individuals with coronary artery disease. The present study was intended to determine the most accurate and user-friendly means of screening patients with coronary artery disease for emotional distress using age at initial diagnosis as the criterion.

Subjects and methods: Two clinical databases consisting of patients with documented coronary artery disease, each contained multiple measures of emotional distress, were used. These databases were investigated by tests of covariation of the emotional distress measures with age at initial diagnosis. If these were statistically significant, sequential testing of cutpoints yielded the minimum score for positivity. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value calculations were made for the significant measures. Single-sex tests of covariation were also examined.

Results and conclusions: The Patient Health Questionnaire was the only significant bedside measure of emotional distress (Pearson r = -0.149, P = .058), with a cutpoint of 10 or greater. The Beck Depression Inventory, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and Crown-Crisp Phobic Anxiety Scale failed to reach significance as covariates of age at initial diagnosis. Substantially greater sensitivity occurs with larger and more cumbersome measures of emotional distress. For example, the Ketterer Stress Symptom Frequency Checklist yielded consistent results with greater variance explained, particularly in men (Pearson r for self-ratings of anger = -0.339, P = .001; depression = -0.363, P = .005; anxiety = -0.273, P = .028). Brief bedside/clinic screening of emotional in populations with coronary artery disease is possible and necessary to improve quality of life, compliance (eg, smoking cessation), and possibly morbidity/mortality. Initial screening can and should occur at the bedside/clinic by cardiology or primary care personnel using the Patient Health Questionnaire.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Coronary Disease / complications
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Coronary Disease / rehabilitation
  • Databases, Factual
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / etiology
  • Efficiency
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires