The prevalence of depression and the accuracy of depression screening tools in migraine patients

Farnaz Amoozegar, Scott B. Patten, Werner J. Becker, Andrew G.M. Bulloch, Kirsten M. Fiest, W. Jeptha Davenport, Christopher R. Carroll, Nathalie Jette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives Migraine and depression are common comorbid conditions. The purpose of this study was to assess how well the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) perform as depression screening tools in patients with migraine. Methods Three hundred consecutive migraine patients were recruited from a large headache center. The PHQ-9 and HADS were self-administered and validated against the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–IV, a gold standard for the diagnosis of depression. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value and receiver-operator characteristic curves were calculated for the PHQ-9 and HADS. Results At the traditional cut-point of 10, the PHQ-9 demonstrated 82.0% sensitivity and 79.9% specificity. At a cut-point of 8, the HADS demonstrated 86.5% sensitivity and specificity. The PHQ-9 algorithm performed poorly (53.8% sensitivity, 94.9% specificity). The point prevalence of depression in this study was 25.0% (95% CI 19.0–31.0), and 17.0% of patients had untreated depression. Conclusions In this study, the PHQ-9 and HADS performed well in migraine patients attending a headache clinic, but optimal cut-points to screen for depression vary depending on the goals of the assessment. Also, migraine patients attending a headache clinic have a high prevalence of depression and many are inadequately treated. Future studies are needed to confirm these findings and to evaluate the impact of depression screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-31
Number of pages7
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Migraine
  • Prevalence
  • Screening
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity


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