Stafford L, Judd F, Gibson P, Komiti A, Quinn M, Mann GB
Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2014 Jan-Feb;36(1):74-80
OBJECTIVE: Depression is common in cancer patients but frequently undetected. Consensus regarding validity and optimal thresholds of screening measures is lacking. We investigated the validity of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D) and Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) relative to a referent diagnostic standard in women with breast or gynecologic cancer.
METHOD: Participants were 100 patients who completed the CES-D and HADS-D within a larger study. The Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview was the criterion standard. Sensitivity, specificity, predictive values and likelihood ratios for various thresholds were calculated using receiver operating characteristics. Participants were assigned to two diagnostic groups: 'major depressive disorder' or 'any depressive disorder'.
RESULTS: Separate analyses were conducted whereby participants found to be receiving depression/anxiety treatment at the time of validation (n=28) were excluded. Both measures had good internal consistency and criterion validity. There were no statistical differences in global accuracy between the measures for detecting either group. For optimal sensitivity and specificity in both groups, generally recommended thresholds were lowered for the HADS-D. For the CES-D, the threshold was lowered for 'any depressive disorder' and raised for 'major depressive disorder'. Negative predictive values associated with our recommended cutoffs were excellent, but positive predictive values were poor.
CONCLUSIONS: The HADS-D and CES-D have acceptable properties and are equivalent for detecting depression in this population. Depending on the purpose of screening, the CES-D may be more suitable for identifying major depression. Threshold choice may have serious implications for screening program effectiveness, and the use of generally recommended thresholds should be cautious.