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Score can screen patients for risk of depression, say researchers

The study

The study tested the predictD score in general practices across Europe, including the UK. Nearly 5,000 patients aged 18 to 74 years and with no diagnosis of depression were included. The score contains 10 factors including age, sex, education level, family history, difficulties at work and discrimination. They assessed the model’s ability to predict the risk of depression over two years using the c-index, equivalent to the area under a receiver operating characteristic curve, with a higher value indicaing better discrimination at predicting depression.


The findings

At two years, the overall c-index for predicting the risk of depression was 0.78. Of the four countries included, the UK had the highest c-index for the 12 to 24 month period, at 0.75 – meaning on 75% of occasions it is correctly identifying those UK-based people at risk of developing depression.


What does it mean for GPs?

The authors concluded that the predictD score can predict risk of depression onset over 24 months and it may be a useful strategy for identifying those at risk of developing the disease.


Expert comment

Dr Elizabeth England, GPSI in mental health in Birmingham: ‘The predictD test fulfils many of the criteria for a good screening test and there is increasing evidence of cost effective interventions such as minimal contact psychotherapy and bibliotherapy that could be implemented if somebody screened positive.’

Psychological Medicine 2013, available online 4 January