Screening adolescents with diabetes for depression and anxiety

Researchers report on the correlations in outcomes between the PHQ-4, PHQ-A and GAD-7 and their clinical utility for determining the need for standard versus acute behavioral health care.

New research into screening adolescents with diabetes for depression and anxiety found the Patient Health Questionnaire for Depression and Anxiety (PHQ-4) screening tool can identify adolescents who would benefit from further evaluation by a behavioral health provider.

The study’s authors included Sara E. Watson, M.D.; Vicki L. Montgomery, M.D.; and Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D.

Adolescents with diabetes are at increased risk for depression and anxiety that can affect diabetes control when left untreated. The authors sought to identify correlations in outcomes between the Patient Health Questionnaire for Depression and Anxiety (PHQ-4), Patient Health Questionnaire for Adolescents (PHQ-A) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7).

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Over six months, 77 patients ages 10 to 18 years screened positive on the PHQ-4. Thirty-two patients had positive screening with the PHQ-A and/or the GAD-7. Thoughts of self-harm were reported by 13 (40%), with one experiencing current/active symptoms.

The PHQ-4 as a screening tool was able to identify adolescents with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety who would benefit from further evaluation by a behavioral health provider.

Drs. Watson and Wintergerst are pediatric endocrinologists with Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. Dr. Montgomery is a specialist with Norton Children’s Critical Care, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

The study, “Depression and Anxiety Screening in Adolescents With Diabetes,” was published in Clinical Pediatrics.


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