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The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) are the most frequently used observer-rated and self-report scales of depression, respectively. It is important to know what a given total score or a change score from baseline on one scale means in relation to the other scale.
We obtained individual participant data from the randomised controlled trials of psychological and pharmacological treatments for major depressive disorders. We then identified corresponding scores of the HAMD and the BDI (369 patients from seven trials) or the BDI-II (683 patients from another seven trials) using the equipercentile linking method.
The HAMD total scores of 10, 20 and 30 corresponded approximately with the BDI scores of 10, 27 and 42 or with the BDI-II scores of 13, 32 and 50. The HAMD change scores of −20 and −10 with the BDI of −29 and −15 and with the BDI-II of −35 and −16.
The results can help clinicians interpret the HAMD or BDI scores of their patients in a more versatile manner and also help clinicians and researchers evaluate such scores reported in the literature or the database, when scores on only one of these scales are provided. We present a conversion table for future research.
Within Beck's cognitive model of depression, little is known about the mechanism(s) by which activated self-schemas result in the production of negative thoughts. Recent research has demonstrated that inhibitory dysfunction is present in depression, and this deficit is likely valence-specific. However, whether valence-specific inhibitory deficits are associated with increased negative cognition and whether such deficits are specific to depression per se remains unexamined. The authors posit the theory that inhibitory dysfunction may influence the degree to which activated self-schemas result in the production of depressive cognition.
Individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD, n=43) versus healthy (n=36) and non-depressed anxious (n=32) controls were assessed on the Prose Distraction Task (PDT), a measure of cognitive inhibition, and the Stop-Signal Task (SST), a measure of motor response inhibition. These two tasks were modified in order to present emotionally valenced semantic stimuli (i.e. negative, neutral, positive).
Participants with MDD demonstrated performance impairments on the PDT, which were most pronounced for negatively valenced adjectives, relative to both control groups. Moreover, these impairments correlated with self-report measures of negative thinking and rumination. Conversely, the performance of the MDD participants did not differ from either control group on the SST.
Implications of these findings for understanding the mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of depressive cognition are discussed.
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