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Performance of the CES-D and its Short Forms in Screening Suicidality and Hopelessness in the Community


  • The study was funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR; E-mail:


A measurement scale should be short and quick to complete if it is to be practically useful. Drawing on data from a community-based survey of 2,178 people in Hong Kong, we compared five short forms (5- to 10-item) and the original version (20-item) of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977) in predicting suicidal attempts and suicidal thoughts. Short forms with as few as nine items performed in ways very similar to the full version; a version with only five items had a detectable difference from the full version. Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values in differentiating people with and without suicidal thought or attempt change almost linearly with the cut-offs.