Background The prevalence of depressive disorders is high among patients with skin disease. The PC-SAD is a 37-item self-administered depression screening questionnaire that has been validated in dermatological patients.
Objective The aim of this study was to develop and validate a brief depression severity instrument derived from the PC-SAD that can be used to assess severity and monitor ongoing clinical course.
Methods Two patient samples participated in the study: 72 adult dermatological inpatients and 73 adults attending six primary care practices. Psychiatric assessment included the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and an 18-item version of the PC-SAD; moreover, dermatological patients completed the Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale (PHQ-9), while primary care patients were administered the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). A subset of five PC-SAD items showing the best psychometric properties were selected, and the reliability and validity of the resulting instrument (PC-SAD5) were examined.
Results The PC-SAD5 showed satisfactory internal consistency in both samples. There was a high correlation between PC-SAD5 and PHQ-9 and MADRS scores. Multiple regression analysis revealed a gradient of PC-SAD5 scores from patients with no mental disorder, those with milder forms of depression, to those with Major Depressive Disorder. Similar results were observed for the 18-item version of the PC-SAD.
Conclusion The availability of valid and reliable continuous measures of depression severity derived from the PC-SAD extends its field of application from depression screening to use as a follow-up measure of depression severity in routine clinical practice. A validated very short instrument such as the PC-SAD5 may have substantial clinical value.