Diagnostic Accuracy of Spanish Language Depression-Screening Instruments

Some evidence, from studies done within and outside the U.S., suggests that Spanish language versions of depression-screening instruments accurately diagnose depression among Spanish speakers.

Primary care providers treating Hispanic populations must decide how to screen patients for depression and other mental illnesses. To make this decision, providers need to know what screening methods are most accurate. This literature review evaluated studies of depression-screening instruments used with Spanish-speaking populations. One study assessed the diagnostic accuracy of a 35-item, written test for post-partum depression. Other screening tools that the articles looked at were: the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders (PRIME-MD-2), the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), and the Centers for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).

Key Findings:

  • The CES-D instrument worked best, in a comparison of depression-screening tools used with middle-aged and older Puerto Ricans living in the northeastern United States.
  • The 30-item and 15-item versions of the GDS proved accurate depression-screening instruments.

Thirty-one million U.S. residents now speak Spanish at home. Depression is costly and, despite advances in detection, current recommendations for depression screening do not take into account language and cultural barriers. This study extends the findings of previous studies of primary care depression screening for U.S. Latinos.