The PHQ-9 is the nine-item depression scale of the patient health questionnaire. It is one of the most validated tools in mental health and can be a powerful tool to assist clinicians with diagnosing depression and monitoring treatment response. The nine items of the PHQ-9 are based directly on the nine diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder in the DSM-IV.
It is essential that you have something in place that promotes “treat-to-target” care – that is, keeping track of patient symptoms and problems and systematically tracking whether or not the treatments are helping. Tracking tools, especially the PHQ-9, are one of the easiest ways to do this. The PHQ-9 is somewhat unique in that it functions as a screening tool, an aid in diagnosis, and as a symptom-tracking tool that can help track the overall severity of a patient’s depression as well as the improvement of specific symptoms with treatment.
Advantages of PHQ-9
- Shorter than other depression rating scales
- Can be administered in person by a clinician, by telephone, or self-administered
- Facilitates diagnosis of major depression
- Provides assessment of symptom severity
- Is well-validated and documented in a variety of populations
- Can be used in adolescents as young as 12 years of age
- Included FREE with the Kipu EMR