Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Medical patients are often screened for distress in the clinic using a questionnaire such as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) while awaiting their consultation. However, might the context of the clinic artificially inflate the distress score ? To address this question we aimed to determine whether those who scored high on the HADS in the clinic remained high scorers when reassessed later at home. METHOD: We analysed data collected by a distress and depression screening service for cancer out-patients. All patients had completed the HADS in the clinic (on computer or on paper) prior to their consultation. For a period, patients with a high score (total of > or = 15) also completed the HADS again at home (over the telephone) 1 week later. We used these data to determine what proportion remained high scorers and the mean change in their scores. We estimated the effect of ‘ regression to the mean’ on the observed change. RESULTS: Of the 218 high scorers in the clinic, most [158 (72.5 %), 95% confidence interval (CI) 66.6–78.4] scored high at reassessment. The mean fall in the HADS total score was 1.74 (95% CI 1.09–2.39), much of which could be attributed to the estimated change over time (regression to the mean) rather than the context. CONCLUSIONS: Pre-consultation distress screening in clinic is widely used. Reassuringly, it only modestly overestimates distress measured later at home and consequently would result in a small proportion of unnecessary further assessments. We conclude it is a reasonable and convenient strategy.

Original publication

DOI

10.1017/S0033291712002930

Type

Journal article

Journal

Psychol Med

Publication Date

10/2013

Volume

43

Pages

2121 - 2128

Keywords

Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Depression, Female, Humans, Male, Mass Screening, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Outpatients, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Stress, Psychological