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Incidence of depression in people with newly diagnosed tuberculosis in Ethiopia: a cohort study

  • Fentie Ambaw (a1) (a2), Rosie Mayston (a3), Charlotte Hanlon (a2) (a3) (a4) and Atalay Alem (a2)



Cross-sectional studies show that the prevalence of comorbid depression in people with tuberculosis (TB) is high. The hypothesis that TB may lead to depression has not been well studied. Our objectives were to determine the incidence and predictors of probable depression in a prospective cohort of people with TB in primary care settings in Ethiopia.


We assessed 648 people with newly diagnosed TB for probable depression using Patient Health Questionnaire, nine-item (PHQ-9) at the time of starting their anti-TB medication. We defined PHQ-9 scores 10 and above as probable depression. Participants without baseline probable depression were assessed at 2 and 6 months to measure incidence of depression. Incidence rates per 1000-person months were calculated. Predictors of incident depression were identified using Poisson regression.


Two hundred and ninety-nine (46.1%) of the participants did not have probable depression at baseline. Twenty-two (7.4%) and 26 (8.7%) developed depression at 2 and 6 months of follow up. The incidence rate of depression between baseline and 2 months was 73.6 (95% CI 42.8–104.3) and between baseline and 6 months was 24.2 (95% CI 14.9–33.5) per 1000 person-months respectively. Female sex (adjusted β = 0.22; 95% CI 0.16–0.27) was a risk factor and perceived social support (adjusted β = −0.14; 95% CI −0.24 to −0.03) was a protective factor for depression onset.


There was high incidence of probable depression in people undergoing treatment for newly diagnosed TB. The persistence and incidence of depression beyond 6 months need to be studied. TB treatment guidelines should have mental health component.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Fentie Ambaw, E-mail:


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Incidence of depression in people with newly diagnosed tuberculosis in Ethiopia: a cohort study

  • Fentie Ambaw (a1) (a2), Rosie Mayston (a3), Charlotte Hanlon (a2) (a3) (a4) and Atalay Alem (a2)


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