Last Updated: February 2016
Author: Vermont Department of Mental Health
According to the United States Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF), Depression is “among the leading causes of disability in persons age 15 years or older.” Screening for depression, with adequate clinical systems in place for support, will increase the number of people receiving treatment and increase positive clinical outcomes for those experiencing depression with minimal risk of harm.
The current recommendation is for adults to be screened when they attend a primary care exam at the frequency recommended by their physician. Current guidelines for frequency of exam vary by age, gender, and overall health condition. For example, a young adult in overall good health will likely have an exam every few years rather than an annual examination.
In Vermont, there are no measures that currently monitor the rate of depression screenings as part of the primary care visit. However, many statewide initiatives are measuring similar constructs related to depression screening, prevalence, and treatment. For example:
- the CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) assesses the prevalence of depression using telephone survey (link);
- the Blueprint for health initiative surveys their members regarding depression using an annual Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers (CAHPs) survey;
- and the Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) of Vermont reported rates of screening for clinical depression with follow-up plan (NCQF 0418).
While the optimum interval for depression screening is unknown, the United States Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that the adult general population, including pregnant and post-partum women should be screened regularly, with consideration for the adequate systems required to ensure accurate diagnosis, treatment, and follow up.