The Patient Health Questionnaire 12 Somatic Symptom scale as a predictor of symptom severity and consulting behaviour in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and symptomatic diverticular disease

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Sep;32(6):811-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04402.x.


Background: Anxiety, depression and nongastrointestinal symptoms are often prominent in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but their relative value in patient management has not been quantitatively assessed. We modified the Patient Health Questionnaire 15 (PHQ-15) by excluding three gastrointestinal items to create the PHQ-12 Somatic Symptom (PHQ-12 SS) scale.

Aims: To compare the value of the PHQ-12 SS scale with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale in predicting symptoms and patient behaviour in IBS and diverticular disease.

Methods: We compared 151 healthy volunteers (HV), 319 IBS patients and 296 patients with diverticular disease (DD), 113 asymptomatic [ASYMPDD] and 173 symptomatic DD (SYMPDD).

Results: Patient Health Questionnaire 12 SS scores for IBS and SYMPDD were significantly higher than HV. Receiver-operator curves showed a PHQ-12 SS >6, gave a sensitivity for IBS of 66.4% with a specificity of 94.7% and a positive likelihood ratio (PLR) = 13.2, significantly better than that associated with an HAD anxiety score >7, PLR = 3.0 and depression score >7 PLR = 6.5. PHQ-12 SS correlated strongly with IBS severity scale and GP visits in both IBS and DD.

Conclusion: The PHQ-12 SS scale is a useful clinical tool which correlates with patient behaviour in both IBS and symptomatic DD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / complications
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires