Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Online Depression Assessment Tool Validated

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Online Depression Assessment Tool Validated

Article excerpt

BOCA RATON, FLA. -- A brief online depression assessment tool is as valid as a paper-and-pencil version of the questionnaire, a study of 46 psychiatric outpatients showed.

In addition, the Web version of the Clinically Useful Depression Outcomes Scale (CUDOS) correlated 89% or more with blinded clinician ratings of depression.

Patients were given the Web address ( and were asked to complete the 18-item online questionnaire at home before their clinical visit. Results were e-mailed to the physician. After consultation with the psychiatrist, each participant also completed the conventional paper-and-pencil version of CUDOS. They next answered a six-item preference survey.

All patients preferred the Internet version to the paper questionnaire, Dr. Mark Zimmerman said at a poster presentation. "Patients trust it, interestingly. They found it is as trustworthy as paper questionnaires." Patients thought the information collected via the free Web site was more accurate (38% vs. 0%) as well as safer and more secure (52% vs. 5%), compared with paper, Dr. Zimmerman said. "I did not expect that kind of preference."

The conventional CUDOS takes less than 3 minutes to complete and about 15 seconds to score. Dr. Zimmerman said both versions are clinically useful because they cover all DSM-IV symptoms of major depressive disorder.

A greater percentage of patients reported that the online version took less time to complete (59%), compared with 7% who reported that the paper version was quicker. The remaining 34% said completion time was about the same.

"So it is accurate, trustworthy, and convenient," said Dr. Zimmerman of the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University and director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital, both in Providence.

The study included 11 men and 35 women (mean age, 44 years). …

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