Impact of PHQ-9 Screen on Early Identification of Depression in IBD Clinic

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Am J Gastroenterol


BACKGROUND: Over the past two decades there has been significant research linking inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to depression. The chronicity of symptoms coupled with the financial burden of treatment costs, missed days of work/school and interpersonal relationship stress are contributing factors in the diagnosis of depression. The prevalence of depression within the IBD community is 15% and depressive symptoms are noted in 20% of patients. Furthermore, IBD patients with severe uncontrolled disease have higher rates of depression (40.7%) than those in remission (16.5%). The association between IBD and depression is linked to lower quality of life, poor medication compliance, worse disease outcomes, increased hospitalization, and higher suicidal risk. Early diagnosis and treatment of depression in IBD patients is paramount in achieving and maintaining IBD disease remission. While the association between IBD and depression is well-known, identifying depression can be a challenge. Review of recent literature shows that depression is under screened in IBD clinics. We present a prospective quality improvement study at a robust IBD center evaluating the impact of a validated depression screen (PHQ-9) on identifying depression compared to standard of care.

METHODS: We compared the prevalence of depression in the IBD clinic in the control group using the history and diagnosis of depression and compared it against the intervention group after HQ-9 screening. Control group patient data was collected from June 2020 to July 2020 via virtual and in person visits. Intervention group PHQ-9 data was collected in person visits from January - March 2020 and post-intervention data collection was placed on hold until November 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. One randomly selected patient from each clinic session was asked to participate in the study at the time of visit. The primary end point was to compare the rates of depression and identify any barriers in providing early treatment for depression. The secondary endpoint was to identify high risk patients that are prone to depression. Categorical variables were analyzed by chi square analysis or fischer exact tests. Numerical data were analyzed using T-test.

RESULTS: A total of 111 patients were screened. 60 patients were randomized to the control group (i.e. EMR based review for depression) and 51 patients were screened via survey during in person clinic visit. The identified depression rate from control vs intervention group is 20% vs. 35% (p = 0.071). Rates of depression were 15% in non-fistulizing Crohn’s disease vs. 41.4% in fistulizing Crohn’s disease (p = 0.003). Multivariate model for predicting depression noted to be significant for extra-intestinal manifestations OR of 3.06 (1.03, 9.12) p = 0.045 and age OR of 0.97 (0.94, 1.00) p = 0.042. Control vs. intervention identification of depression in patients with extra-intestinal manifestations is notable for OR of 3.31 (1.15, 9.52) p = 0.026 in the univariate model and OR of 3.30 (1.07, 10.16) p = 0.038 in the multivariate model.

CONCLUSION: Key findings including identification of depression is higher in the intervention group compared to the control group. Though the data is not statistically significant, this is likely secondary to the small sample size in the setting of the pandemic. In addition, univariate analysis revealed a statistically significant finding that the older the age of the patient, the less likely they are to have depression. Our data showed that the mean age of depressed patients was 38.3 compared to nondepressed patients whose mean age is 47.1. Further analysis can help elucidate this finding, for example identifying if older patients are being treated for depression or more likely to seek out therapists compared to younger patients. Univariate analysis also revealed that intestinal Crohn's disease was a risk factor for depression. This is possibly secondary to the severity of disease in these individuals, especially if their IBD is causing an impact on their quality of life. Looking into the number of hospitalizations, days off from work or school, and coexisting medical diagnoses can allow us to further understand if depression stems from their disease. Given preliminary findings, we plan to continue this study for a larger sample size and further determine if there is a significant delay in identifying depression with the current standard of care.





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