Feasibility and diagnostic accuracy of early mood screening to diagnose persisting clinical depression/anxiety disorder after stroke

Rosalind Lees, David J Stott, Terence J Quinn, Niall M Broomfield

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22 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Depression/anxiety disorders are common after stroke and have a negative impact on outcomes. Guidelines recommend that all stroke survivors are screened for these problems. However, there is no consensus on timing or method of assessment. We investigated the feasibility and accuracy of a very early screening strategy and the diagnostic accuracy this has for depression/anxiety disorders at 1 month.

METHODS: Screening tools were Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Depression Intensity Scale Circles (DISCs); we also assessed cognition using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Screening was offered to sequential stroke admissions. At 1 month we assessed for clinical depression/anxiety disorder using Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) and retested screening tools. We described test accuracy of acute depression/anxiety screening for clinical diagnosis of depression/anxiety disorder at 1 month and described temporal change in screening test scores. We assessed feasibility by describing proportions that were able, agreed to and completed the screening tests.

RESULTS: Over 4 months, 102/146 admissions were suitable for screening following initial medical assessment, 69 (68%) agreed to screening, of whom 33 (48%) required researcher assistance to complete the screening test battery. Median time to assessment was 2 days (IQR: 1-4). Early HADS suggested n = 9 (13%) with depression; DISCs n = 25 (37%). Median acute MoCA was 21/30. At 1 month, n = 61 (88%) provided data. Repeat scores showed improvement over time; HADS (anxiety) mean difference: 2.5 (95% CI: 1.2-3.7), HADS (depression) mean difference: 1.6 (95% CI: 0.3-2.9). MINI defined n = 12 (20%) with depression and n = 6 (10%) with anxiety disorder. Comparing baseline screening to 1-month clinical diagnosis, HADS sensitivity was 0.25 (95% CI: 0.09-0.53) and specificity 0.94 (95% CI: 0.84-0.98); DISCs sensitivity was 0.92 (95% CI: 0.65-0.99) and specificity 0.78 (95% CI: 0.64-0.87).

CONCLUSIONS: Even amongst 'medically stable' stroke patients, depression/anxiety screening at the acute stage may not be feasible or accurate. Half of participants required assistance from the researcher to complete assessments. The poor predictive accuracy of HADS for depression/anxiety disorder at 1 month may be due in part to the high prevalence of cognitive impairment in our sample. Screening in the first few days after stroke does not appear useful for detecting clinically important and sustained depression/anxiety problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-9
Number of pages7
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number5
Early online date4 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect/physiology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety Disorders/diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders/complications
  • Depression/etiology
  • Depressive Disorder/diagnosis
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stroke/complications
  • Young Adult

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