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Clinical, depression, nursing, research, screening



  1. O'Byrne, Patrick RN-EC, PhD
  2. Jacob, Jean Daniel RN, PhD


Background and purpose: Depression is a major health concern encountered by nurse practitioners working in an array of health care settings. Many current guidelines and articles on this topic recommend using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) as a screening tool. Nurse practitioners should have a sophisticated knowledge of this tool.


Methods: Review of the criteria for diagnosing depression as well as depression screening tools. Database search of EMBASE, CINAHL, and MEDLINE for articles about the PHQ-9. Discussion of how the instrument is used in the clinical setting.


Conclusions: The PHQ-9 is a free tool that nurse practitioners can use to screen patients in the primary care environment. Screening will detect more instances of depression, which is often missed in this population of patients.


Implications for practice: Nurse practitioners can and should use the PHQ-9 when screening for depression. However, they should do so with full knowledge and awareness of its strengths and limitations.