What does routine depression screening in the ambulatory orthopedic clinic teach us? Results from nearly 60,000 patient encounters

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J Orthop


BACKGROUND: It remains unclear what role depression screening plays in routine ambulatory orthopedic care. The purpose of this study was to determine (1) the floor and ceiling effects of the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Depression (PROMIS-D) form, (2) the prevalence of positive PROMIS-D screening forms across an orthopedic service line, and (3) the prevalence of previously diagnosed depression and interventions among a representative sample of patients.

METHODS: This retrospective study analyzed 58,227 patients who presented to ambulatory orthopedic clinics across an orthopedic service line between January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021. All patients completed a self-administered PROMIS-D form as part of the ambulatory encounter. Scores were analyzed with respect to patient characteristics including age, gender, and presenting orthopedic complaint. A sample of 1000 patients was evaluated for prevalence of depressive symptoms and formal psychiatric diagnosis and interventions in the 5 years preceding the clinic visit.

RESULTS: PROMIS-D displayed a negligible ceiling effect (<0.001 %) but a large floor effect (19.0 %). PROMIS-D scores indicating depressive symptoms were highest among patients presenting with spine complaints (42.8 %) and lowest among patients presenting to orthopedic pediatric clinics (28.6 %). Women and those in the lowest quartile median household income (MHI) were more likely to report depressive symptoms. Among the 1000 patient sample, 31.3 % exhibited depressive symptoms. Of these, 39 % had previously received some form of mental health treatment, including 33.2 % who were prescribed antidepressants.

CONCLUSIONS: PROMIS-D is a useful screening questionnaire for patients in the orthopedic clinic, although there is a consistent floor effect. There are a number of patients who present to the orthopedic clinic who have depressive symptoms but have had no interaction with behavioral health. Given the impact depression can have on outcomes, screening for depressive symptoms should be considered as part of routine orthopedic practice.

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