Correctly identifying asthma patients who need treatment for depression is part of comprehensive care. The objective of this study was to compare the prevalence of depressive symptoms measured by the short-form Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD-SF), which measures somatic and psychological symptoms, with the original and short-form Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS and GDS-SF), which measure only psychological symptoms. In total, 257 asthma patients (mean age 42 years, 75% women) completed the GDS (score range 0-30, positive screen > or = 11) and the CESD-SF (score range 0-30, positive screen > or = 10). The performance of each scale was compared to clinical diagnoses of depressive disorders reported by physicians using a skill score analysis. Twenty percent of patients had GDS scores > or = 11 and 32% had CESD-SF scores > or = 10. The somatic symptom of restless sleep was the most common CESD-SF symptom and the symptom that contributed most to the total score. The GDS had a skill score of +.16 (+1 = maximum possible, 0 = best guess) and the CESD-SF had a skill score of -.02 compared to physician-reported depressive disorders. Similar results were found for the GDS-SF. Thus, more patients had a positive CESD-SF screen, which was attributable mostly to a somatic sleep symptom that overlaps with asthma symptoms, and the GDS was more consistent with physicians' reports of depressive disorders.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00195117.