Table 2:

Summary of available recommendations on screening for depression in adults

OrganizationRisk assessmentRecommendationScreening test
Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (current)No recommendation*
  • Recommend not routinely screening adults at average risk in primary care settings

  • Recommend not routinely screening subgroups of the population in primary care settings who have characteristics that may increase their risk of depression (e.g., people with a family history of depression or with chronic health problems)

No recommendation
Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (2005)14No recommendation
  • Recommend screening adults for depression in primary care settings with both feedback to the clinician regarding depression status and a system for managing treatment (antidepressant medications and psychotherapeutic interventions)

No recommendation
UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence — adults12
  • History of depression

  • Chronic physical health problem with associated functional impairment

  • Recommend being alert to possible depression

Whooley questions
UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence — perinatal women41
  • Past or present severe mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis in the postnatal period and severe depression)

  • Previous treatment (including inpatient care) by a psychiatrist or specialist mental health team

  • Family history of mental illness during perinatal state

  • Recommend identifying possible depression at a woman’s first contact with primary care, at her booking visit [first prenatal visit] and postnatally (usually at 4–6 wk and 3–4 mo)

Whooley questions plus help question
UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence — people with chronic illnesses42
  • History of depression

  • Chronic physical health problem with associated functional impairment

  • Recommend being alert to possible depression

Whooley questions
US Preventive Services Task Force13No recommendation
  • Recommend screening for depression in adults in clinical practices that have systems in place to assure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment and follow-up

No recommendation
  • * The task force did not formulate a recommendation on risk assessment because the topic was out of scope of the current guideline.

  • Whooley questions: During the last month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless? During the last month, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?

  • If the patient answers Yes to either of the Whooley questions, a third question should be considered: Is this something you feel you need or want help with?