Validity of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 to screen for depression in a high-HIV burden primary healthcare clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Integration of depression screening into primary care may increase access to mental health services in sub-Saharan Africa, but this approach requires validated screening instruments. We sought to validate the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) as a depression screening tool at a high HIV-burden primary care clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa. METHODS: We conducted a validation study of an interviewer-administered PHQ-9 among 397 patients. Sensitivity and specificity of the PHQ-9 were calculated with the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) as the reference standard; receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses were performed. RESULTS: The prevalence of depression was 11.8%. One-third of participants tested positive for HIV. HIV-infected patients were more likely to be depressed (15%) than uninfected patients (9%; p=0.08). Using the standard cutoff score of ≥10, the PHQ-9 had a sensitivity of 78.7% (95% CI: 64.3-89.3) and specificity of 83.4% (95% CI: 79.1-87.2). The area under the ROC curve was 0.88 (95% CI: 0.83-0.92). Test performance did not vary by HIV status or language. In sensitivity analyses, reference test bias associated with the MINI appeared unlikely. LIMITATIONS: We were unable to conduct qualitative work to adapt the PHQ-9 to this cultural context. CONCLUSION: This is the first validation study of the PHQ-9 in a primary care clinic in sub-Saharan Africa. It highlights the potential for using primary care as an access point for identifying depressive symptoms during routine HIV testing. The PHQ-9 showed reasonable accuracy in classifying cases of depression, was easily implemented by lay health workers, and is a useful screening tool in this setting.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cholera, R; Gaynes, BN; Pence, BW; Bassett, J; Qangule, N; Macphail, C; Bernhardt, S; Pettifor, A; Miller, WC

Published Date

  • 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 167 /

Start / End Page

  • 160 - 166

PubMed ID

  • 24972364

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4264106

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-2517

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jad.2014.06.003


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands