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Is it useful to ask “Está deprimido?” (“Are you depressed?”) to terminally-ill Portuguese patients? Results from outpatient research

  • Miguel Julião (a1), Baltazar Nunes (a2), Maria Ana Sobral (a3), Daniela Dias (a4), Inês Inocêncio (a4) and António Barbosa (a5)...



Depression is a serious psychological problem in the palliative care setting. Brief screening tools for depression are lacking and need to be brief and acceptable. This study aimed to identify the properties of the single Portuguese question “Está deprimido?” (“Are you depressed?”) to screen for depression.


Retrospective study from 100 patient's medical records identifying the answers on the single Portuguese question for depression “Está deprimido?” (“Are you depressed?”) and the HADS depression sub-scale, using a score ≥11 on the latter as the gold standard for clinically significant depressive symptoms. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive and negative values were calculated.


Response rate for the single Portuguese question for depression was 100%. Prevalence of depression symptoms (HADS-d ≥ 11) was 43%. To the question “Está deprimido?” 60 patients responded “yes.” Sixteen patients who replied “no” to the single question had clinically significant depressive symptoms based on the HADS depression sub-scale. The single tool had 65.2% sensitivity, 49.2% specificity and 50.0% and 64.4% of positive predictive and negative values, respectively.

Significance of results:

In this first preliminary retrospective Portuguese study, the single question for depression has shown poor screening properties. Future research in larger and mixed patientś samples of Portuguese terminally ill is necessary to find more accurate and robust properties of this brief tool.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Miguel Julião, Center of Bioethics – Av. Prof. Egas Moniz. 1649-028 Lisboa, Portugal. E-mail:


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