Discrepancies in Assessing Symptoms of Depression in Adolescents With Diabetes Using the Patient Health Questionnaire and Semi-Structured Interviews

Driving Safety in Adolescents and Young Adults With Type 1 Diabetes

AbstractAdolescents with diabetes have a higher prevalence of depression compared with their peers. The American Diabetes Association recommends routine mental health screening for youth with diabetes. This screening is often conducted through accessible and free depression screeners, such as the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Although the PHQ-9 has been validated for use in adolescents and with other medical conditions, it has yet to be validated for use in pediatric diabetes. This study evaluated adolescents’ depression symptom endorsement through retrospective review of PHQ-9 screening and semi-structured interviews with a mental health provider in a multidisciplinary diabetes clinic (patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes). Adolescent participants (n = 96) screened during one to three separate visits (n = 148) endorsed some depressive symptoms in 56% of visits (n = 84) and moderate to severe symptoms in 6% of visits on the PHQ-9. Approximately 95% of study participants did not meet the clinic cutoff for further evaluation, but greater rates of depression were endorsed in youth with type 1 diabetes. Low mood was endorsed at a higher rate during a semi-structured interview with embedded mental health providers than on the PHQ-9. Symptoms specific to low mood, including anhedonia, sleep disturbance, concentration disturbance, motor disturbance, and thoughts of death/self-harm, were more frequently endorsed on the PHQ-9 than during the interview. Although the PHQ-9 is a good screening tool, the availability of mental health providers in diabetes clinics is important to address specific endorsed symptoms and place them in perspective based on specialized training. Until more definitive research is available on the sensitivity and specificity of this measure in this population and setting, a two-part screening approach that includes both the screening questionnaire and a brief semi-structured interview is warranted.© 2020 by the American Diabetes Association

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