Measuring depression in persons with spinal cord injury: A systematic review

CITATION: Kalpakjian, C., Bombardier, C., Schomer, K., Brown, P. & Johnson, K. (2008). Measuring depression in persons with spinal cord injury: A systematic review. J.Spinal Cord Med (31), 47-65.

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Depression has been studied extensively among people with spinal cord injury (SCI). However, basic questions persist regarding the reliability and validity of depression measurement in the context of SCI. The objective of this study was to evaluate the state of knowledge of depression measurement in persons with SCI.

METHODS: English-language peer-reviewed citations from MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, ProQuest, Google Scholar, and Web of Science from 1980 to present. Two reviewers screened 377 abstracts on SCI and depression topics to identify 144 containing classifiable psychometric data. All 144 were reviewed by 6 reviewers. Twenty-four studies reporting psychometric data on 7 depression measures in SCI samples were identified, including 7 validity studies.

RESULTS: Reliability data were limited to internal consistency and were consistently good to excellent across 19 studies. Validity data were limited to concurrent validity, construct validity, and/or clinical utility in 10 studies. Measures were comparable with respect to internal consistency, factor structure, and clinical utility. Results are limited to peer-reviewed, English literature, and studies were not judged for quality.

CONCLUSIONS: Greater attention should be paid to the psychometric evaluation of established measures. Although existing evidence may not justify universal screening, we recommend depression screening in clinical practice when patients may be seen by nonpsychology personnel. There is insufficient evidence to recommend one screening measure over another. Therefore, selection of measures will depend on clinician preferences. Psychometric studies are needed to show test-retest reliability, criterion validity, and sensitivity to change to improve depression recognition and treatment.