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The Patient Health Questionnaire

The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) is one of the tools that are used to evaluate patients’ psychological state. The questionnaire is also usually applied to measure depression symptoms in adolescent patients (Richardson et al., 2014). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the PHQ-9 with the focus on its appropriateness to be used in the adolescent population.

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Describe the Evaluation Tool and Explain Why This Tool Is Essential in the Care of the Adolescent Patient Population

The PHQ-9 is a self-report assessment instrument that is applied to screen early signs of depression in adolescents. The version for adolescents includes nine items that are helpful to indicate signs of depression according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and this aspect adds to the PHQ-9’s validity (Breland et al., 2014). The instrument is easy to use, and adolescents usually have no problems with filling the PHQ-9 protocol. Furthermore, the PHQ-9 is essential for diagnosing adolescents and providing appropriate care because this instrument also measures the severity of depression. Thus, the PHQ-9 is important to identify patients with a high risk of suicide attempts depending on the severity of reported symptoms (Simon et al., 2016). This tool is effective to measure depression in adolescents with the focus on identifying possible suicidal ideations.

Apply the Findings of the Scholarly Research Articles to the Use of This Evaluation Tool and Describe Its Validity and Reliability

The PHQ-9 is a valid and reliable instrument for detecting signs of depression, as it is reported in many studies with reference to different ethnic and cultural contexts. According to Burdzovic and Brunborg (2017), this tool can be used for adolescents who belong to different cultures and backgrounds without decreasing its validity or minimizing effectiveness. In their study, Arrieta et al. (2017) noted that predictive validity of this instrument is high, and the PHQ-9 has relevant psychometric properties to be applied to wide populations. Researchers also claimed that the PHQ-9 provides the clinically appropriate classification of symptoms to be used for planning care (Mitchell, Yadegarfar, Gill, & Stubbs, 2016; Pratt & Brody, 2014; Simon et al., 2016). Researchers agree that the instrument allows for interpreting reported subjective data to determine possible depression symptoms with a high level of accuracy.

Apply This Evaluation Tool to a Patient Situation and Summarize Your Opinion of the Results

Applying this tool to measuring Angela Cortez’s psychological state, it is important to refer to the PHQ-9 score that is 19. This score indicates that the woman has symptoms of moderately severe depression. The application of the PHQ-9 is important in this case as it allows for deciding on specific care strategies to be used (Breland et al., 2014). The PHQ-9 helps determine that Angela’s depression cannot be addressed only with the help of antidepressants, several counseling sessions, or psychotherapy. The patient requires a combination therapy based on using antidepressants and psychotherapy. Furthermore, the tool is effective to demonstrate what particular outcomes of depression are associated with Angela’s case and should be addressed.

Describe a Plan of Care for the Patient, Depending upon the Results

Referring to the results of Angela’s assessment, it is possible to propose the care plan that includes several components. Firstly, the focus is on a combination therapy that involves using fluoxetine (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and applying the cognitive-behavioral therapy. The patient should be educated regarding side effects of fluoxetine. This therapy is evidence-based to treat depression in adolescents (Richardson et al., 2014). Secondly, additional assessments of suicidal risks will be required after several weeks to control Angela’s state. The patient and her parents should be educated regarding specifics of depression and suicide risks. Angela should also be referred to a nutritionist to keep an appropriate diet and lose weight. Follow-up sessions need to be scheduled every three weeks.


The paper has presented the analysis of the PHQ-9 for measuring depression in adolescents. This tool is valid and reliable to assess the severity of depression in patients using only nine questions. Furthermore, the PHQ-9 results are helpful while planning the treatment strategy for patients.


Arrieta, J., Aguerrebere, M., Raviola, G., Flores, H., Elliott, P., Espinosa, A.,… Palazuelos, D. (2017). Validity and utility of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)‐2 and PHQ‐9 for screening and diagnosis of depression in rural Chiapas, Mexico: A cross‐sectional study. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73(9), 1076-1090. Web.

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Breland, D. J., McCarty, C. A., Zhou, C., McCauley, E., Rockhill, C., Katon, W., & Richardson, L. P. (2014). Determinants of mental health service use among depressed adolescents. General Hospital Psychiatry, 36(3), 296-301. Web.

Burdzovic, A. J., & Brunborg, G. S. (2017). Depressive symptomatology among Norwegian adolescent boys and girls: The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) psychometric properties and correlates. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 887-892. Web.

Mitchell, A. J., Yadegarfar, M., Gill, J., & Stubbs, B. (2016). Case finding and screening clinical utility of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9 and PHQ-2) for depression in primary care: A diagnostic meta-analysis of 40 studies. British Journal of Psychiatry, 2(2), 127-138. Web.

Pratt, L. A., & Brody, D. J. (2014). Implications of two-stage depression screening for identifying persons with thoughts of self-harm. General Hospital Psychiatry, 36(1), 119-123. Web.

Richardson, L. P., Ludman, E., McCauley, E., Lindenbaum, J., Larison, C., Zhou, C.,… Katon, W. (2014). Collaborative care for adolescents with depression in primary care: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 312(8), 809-816. Web.

Simon, G. E., Coleman, K. J., Rossom, R. C., Beck, A., Oliver, M., Johnson, E.,… Rutter, C. (2016). Risk of suicide attempt and suicide death following completion of the Patient Health Questionnaire depression module in community practice. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 77(2), 221-227. Web.

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