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Questionnaires > Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)

Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)

The PHQ-9 helps clinicians to quantify depressive symptoms and monitor the severity of these symptoms over time. Having the PHQ-9 administered and scored digitally, including with automatic self-harm alerts and trend lines over time, makes it an even more powerful healthcare tool.

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How to take the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) Questionnaire

At the beginning of the PHQ-9, patients are prompted with the following question: “How often have you been bothered by the following over the past 2 weeks?” Patients then fill out the questionnaire, indicating the frequency with which they have experienced particular feelings, symptoms and actions. Once these questions are answered by the patient, the assessment is scored and the severity of the depressive symptoms are categorized into one of five categories: none/minimal, mild, moderate, moderate/severe, and severe.

The history of Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)

Released in 2010 by Pfizer, the PHQ-9 is a simple 9-question instrument for screening, diagnosing, monitoring and measuring the severity of depression. In less than 10 years, it has become one of the most commonly used depression screens by clinicians as well as researchers alike, and is endorsed by a number of organizations, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and the American Psychiatric Association. While the PHQ-9 is most commonly used by mental health providers, a wide array of other healthcare providers (such as Primary Care Physicians, for example) have also adopted this questionnaire as part of their standard practices for screening depression symptoms.

Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) in
the real world

More than ever, mental health is becoming a larger and larger component of patient care plans. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented increase in stress among communities and individuals, worsening or triggering mental health conditions such as depression (see the CDC’s pandemic stress guide for more information). Research shows that the effects go beyond depression itself—mental health is closely linked with cognitive function. Studies show that even if your focus is not mental health, a quick measure of depression may be beneficial. A wide variety of mental and physical illnesses are closely linked with depression and cognition, including type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart failure, and more.

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