Depression

Patient Health Questionnaire

The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was initially designed to facilitate the recognition and diagnosis of depressive disorders in primary care. It is now widely used both as a screening measure for depression across treatment settings, and as a progress monitoring tool for depression treatment.

Total number of questions

9

Administration method

Self-report

Standardized cadence

Every 2 weeks

Age range

18+

Language

English

Scoring and interpretation

A 5+ point change in PHQ-9 scores is deemed clinically significant. Treatment recommendations are based on the clinical cutoff of the total severity score, as described below:

  • 0 to 4: Minimal or none. Monitor, may not require treatment.
  • 5 to 9: Mild. Use clinical judgement to determine necessity of treatment.
  • 10 to 14: Moderate. Use clinical judgement to determine necessity of treatment.
  • 15 to 19: Moderately Severe. Warrants active treatment with psychotherapy and/or meds.
  • 20 to 27: Severe: Warrants active treatment with psychotherapy and/or meds.

Reliability and validity

PHQ-9 scores > 10 had a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 88% for Major Depressive Disorder. A study involving two different patient populations produced Cronbach alphas of .86 and .89.

Additional information

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