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Depression: Use of the PHQ-9

Depression is more than feeling sad or "blue". Depression can interfere with daily life. Most people who seek treatment can get better. Your provider will know if you are getting better by using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) tool, a widely used tool to help your provider track your treatment progress. Using the PHQ-9, your provider will ask nine questions about the problems you are having and how you are feeling.

The PHQ-9 Use measure reports on how successful clinics are with using the PHQ-9 survey to see if patients with depression are getting better.

  • The average rate of PHQ-9 use by all reporting clinics is 68%

Care You Should Expect to Receive
High-quality care for treatment of depression may include medication, talking with a therapist or lifestyle changes. Your provider should ask you to answer the nine questions during each visit to see if you are feeling better and if you are on track to have no symptoms or almost no symptoms (remission).

Symptoms of depression can interfere with a patient’s daily life:

  • lack of appetite or increased appetite
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • loss of interest in once pleasurable activities
  • feeling of hopelessness

How Will This Help Me?
Your provider will use your PHQ-9 score to help decide what treatments may work best for you. Over time, your score can show how well those treatments are working. If the PHQ-9 score goes down (by half or more), it means you are feeling better and responding well to treatment. If your score goes down even more and stays down, you may be in remission. This means you are having few symptoms of depression or none at all.


The Data:

We measure how well clinics perform with using the PHQ-9 survey to see if patients with depression are getting better. This is known as “PHQ-9 use”. The bar charts and percentages below tell you how well clinics perform on this measure. The average rate of PHQ-9 use by all reporting clinics is 68%. This means that almost 7 out of 10 patients with depression were asked by their clinics to respond to the nine questions on the PHQ-9 survey.

High rates of asking patients to complete the PHQ-9 survey can be a sign of strong clinic performance in depression care. Your clinic may have received a higher or lower rating depending on how many patients reported feeling better at 12 months. Differences in percentages between clinics don’t always reflect the experience or the quality of care you might have as a patient. One suggestion is for you to talk with your provider if you have questions or concerns.

This report is based on services patients received between October 2012 and January 2013.



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