Screening for depression in chronic hemodialysis patients: Comparison of the Beck Depression Inventory, primary nurse, and nephrology team


L. Moist, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Associate Professor of Medicine, London Health Sciences Center, University of Western Ontario, 800 Commissioners Road East, London, ON, Canada N6A 4G6. E-mail:


Depression in patients with end-state renal disease (ESRD) is both underdiagnosed and treated, which may contribute to an increase in morbidity and mortality. Efforts aimed at screening, diagnosing, and treating depression could potentially modify outcomes in this population. The purpose of this study was to compare the prevalence of depression, as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), the primary nurse, and nephrology team, among a cohort of patients receiving chronic hemodialysis (HD). A secondary objective was to identify patient variables associated with depression. Patients were screened for depression at the same time point, using the BDI-II, the primary nurse and the nephrology team. Depression was defined as a BDI-II score ≥14. Agreement between the BDI-II score, nurse, and nephrology team assessment of depression was compared using a kappa score and receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves were generated. One hundred and twenty-four of an eligible 154 patients completed the study. Depression as measured by a BDI-II≥14, the nurse and the team was diagnosed in 38.7%, 41.9%, and 24.2% of patients, respectively. With the BDI-II as the gold standard, the nurses' diagnosis of depression had an agreement of 74.6% vs. only 24.2% agreement with the nephrology team. A previous history of malignancy was the only variable associated with the diagnosis of depression. Depression is common among patients on HD, supporting the need for a routine depression-screening program. The primary dialysis nurse is in a key position to identify patients with depression and should be considered as an integral part of the nephrology team.