New depression screeners measure symptoms, follow progress of treatment

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Research from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine shows that the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information Systems (PROMIS) scale for depression developed by the National Institutes of Health accurately measures depression symptoms and severity, according to a new paper published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

Depression is the second most disabling condition in the world, after pain, so screening and diagnosis are crucial to improving outcomes for patients, especially in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The research team analyzed data from three randomized clinical trials involving about 650 patients. It compared the results of the PROMIS scale, which is a survey where patients report their symptoms, to the results of a structured psychiatric interview. They also compared the diagnostic performance of the PROMIS scale and Patient Health Questionnaire nine-item depression scale (PHQ-9), which has been validated and widely adopted around the world, to benchmark the PROMIS measures. 

Data analysis showed that PROMIS and PHQ-9 depression scales have similar accuracy when diagnosing depression.