Screening for symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients treated with renal replacement therapy: utility of the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System-Revised

Qual Life Res. 2022 Feb;31(2):597-605. doi: 10.1007/s11136-021-02910-5. Epub 2021 Jun 17.


Purpose: The Edmonton Symptom Assessment System-revised (ESASr) is widely used in clinical oncology to screen for physical and emotional symptoms. The performance of the anxiety and depression items (ESASr-A and ESASr-D, respectively) as screening tools have not been evaluated in patients treated with renal replacement therapy.

Methods: Kidney transplant recipients and patients on dialysis were recruited in Toronto. Patients were classified as having moderate/severe depression and anxiety symptoms using the established cut-off score of ≥ 10 on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and the General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) questionnaires.

Results: This study included 931 participants; 62% male, mean age (SD) 55(16), and 52% White. All participants completed ESASr, however only 748 participants completed PHQ-9 and 769 participants completed GAD-7. Correlation between ESASr item scores and legacy scores were moderately strong (ESASr-D/PHQ-9: 0.61; ESASr-A/GAD-7: 0.64). We found good discrimination for moderate/severe depression and anxiety [area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (95% CI) ESASr-D 0.82(0.78-0.86); ESASr-A 0.87 (0.82, 0.92)]. The cut-off ≥ 2 for ESASr-D [Sensitivity = 0.76; Specificity = 0.77; Likelihood Ratio (LR) + = 3.29; LR - = 0.31] and ≥ 4 for ESASr-A (Sensitivity = 0.75; Specificity = 0.87; LR + = 5.76; LR - = 0.29) had the best combination of measurement characteristics.

Conclusion: The identified ESASr-D and ESASr-A cut-off scores may be used to rule out patients without emotional distress with few false negatives. However, the low sensitivity identified in our analysis suggests that neither ESASr-D or ESASr-A are acceptable as standalone screening tools.

Keywords: Anxiety; Chronic kidney disease; Clinical utility; Depression; Edmonton Symptom Assessment Survey-Revised; Screening.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life* / psychology
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Symptom Assessment