Benchmarking Depressive Symptoms in Cardiac Rehabilitation

J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2022 May 1;42(3):163-171. doi: 10.1097/HCR.0000000000000657. Epub 2021 Nov 24.


Purpose: Depression affects cardiac health and is important to track within cardiac rehabilitation (CR). Using two depression screeners within one sample, we calculated prevalence of baseline depressive symptomology, improvements during CR, and predictors of both.

Methods: Data were drawn from the University of Vermont Medical Center CR program prospectively collected database. A total of 1781 patients who attended between January 2011 and July 2019 were included. Two depression screeners (Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form [GDS-SF] and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 [PHQ-9]) were compared on proportion of the sample categorized with ≥ mild or moderate levels of depressive symptoms (PHQ-9 ≥5, ≥10; GDS-SF ≥6, ≥10). Changes in depressive symptoms by screener were examined within patients who had completed ≥9 sessions of CR. Patient characteristics associated with depressive symptoms at entry, and changes in symptoms were identified.

Results: Within those who completed ≥9 sessions of CR with exit scores on both screeners (n = 1201), entrance prevalence of ≥ mild and ≥ moderate depressive symptoms differed by screener (32% and 9% PHQ-9; 12% and 3% GDS-SF; both P< .001). Patients who were younger, female, with lower cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) scores were more likely to have ≥ mild depressive symptoms at entry. Most patients with ≥ mild symptoms decreased severity by ≥1 category by exit (PHQ-9 = 73%; GDS-SF = 77%). Nonsurgical diagnosis and lower CRF were associated with less improvement in symptoms on the PHQ-9 (both P< .05).

Conclusion: Our results provide initial benchmarks of depressive symptoms in CR. They identify younger patients, women, patients with lower CRF, and those with nonsurgical diagnosis as higher risk groups for having depressive symptoms or lack of improvement in symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Benchmarking
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation*
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prevalence