Usefulness of Depression Screening Protocol in MS Clinic Sample.

TitleUsefulness of Depression Screening Protocol in MS Clinic Sample.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsHauge J, Ehde DM, Bombardier CH, Wadhwani R, Boag-Whitley T, Chwastiak LA, Kraft GH
JournalInternational Journal of MS Care

Introduction: Depression is very common among persons with MS and is associated with increased disability and decreased quality of life. This study examines the usefulness of a screening tool in facilitating the treatment of depression in an MS clinic. Specifically, we were interested in seeing if those who screened positive for depression were referred for treatment. Methods: Fifty-four consecutive patients at an MS clinic completed a brief, self-administered psychosocial screen after checking in for a routine clinic visit. Depressive symptoms were measured using the 20-item Centers for Epidemiological Studies–Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977). A trained assistant scored the screen and reported clinically significant depressive symptoms (CES-D score > 16) to clinic physicians as part of the intake information. Results: Fifty-four subjects completed the questionnaire. Thirty-two (59.3%) subjects screened positive for clinically significant depressive symptoms. Of the 32 subjects who screened positive for depression, 17 (53.1%) reported current use of antidepressant medication and one (3.1%) reported current counseling. Two (6.3%) subjects were given a psychiatric referral, three (9.4%) were given a counseling referral, and none were started on a new antidepressant medication. Overall, 17 (53.1%) of the 32 depressed subjects were being treated or received new treatment for their depression. Conclusions: 1) Depression is common in MS patients seen in an outpatient clinic. 2) Screening for depression can be effectively done in a brief period of time using a standardized depression screen. 3) This brief screening reveals that over half of the subjects who screened positive for depression are currently being treated, either through ongoing use of antidepressant medication or referrals to specialty providers. 4) Ideally, everyone experiencing depressive symptoms should be treated, suggesting that improvements to this screen would increase its usefulness in an MS clinic.

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