Objective: To assess the acceptability and face validity of a psychological assessment instrument, the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9), as a depression screening tool for use with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
Methods: Four focus groups were held in an urban, Aboriginal community-controlled health service. Participants’ attitudes to screening for depression and the specific components of PHQ-9 were explored.
Results: Process-oriented and PHQ-9-specific themes were raised. They included the role of family in the screening process, the need for a trusting relationship between the tool administrator and patient, the risk of confounding by social disadvantage or physical co-morbidities, the absence of a question assessing the presence of anger as a symptom of depression, and the importance of culturally appropriate language within the tool.
Conclusion: Modification of the screening process and wording of the PHQ-9 in response to these concerns should render it acceptable for use with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients in this setting.
Implications: These results may apply to the use of other psychological screening tools in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. This is particularly relevant given the policy emphasis on screening in Indigenous health.