Depression often develops undetected; to make treatment possible, a single-item screening question may be useful.
We attempted to compare the accuracy of the single-item question 'Are you depressed?' with the seven-item Depression subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D) among 1192 Swedish testicular cancer survivors.
We obtained information from 974 men (82%). Fifty-nine men (6%) answered 'Yes' to the question 'Are you depressed?' while 118 (12%) answered 'I don't know' and 794 (82%) answered 'No'. Among the 794 men who answered 'No' to the question 'Are you depressed?', 790 (99.5%) were not considered as depressed according to HADS-D 11+. Of those answering 'Yes', 34% (20/59) were identified as depressed according to the same cut-off. Sensitivity of 'Yes' compared with HADS-D > or =11 was 61%, rising to 88% when 'Yes' and 'I don't know' were combined.
In a population of men with a prevalence of depression similar to that of the normal population, almost none of those responding 'No' to the written question 'Are you depressed?' were depressed according to HADS-D > or =11. Adding the category 'I don't know' increases sensitivity in detecting depression.