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01.12.2012 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 1/2012

Screening for depressed mood in an adolescent psychiatric context by brief self-assessment scales – testing psychometric validity of WHO-5 and BDI-6 indices by latent trait analyses

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes > Ausgabe 1/2012
Eva Henje Blom, Per Bech, Göran Högberg, Jan Olov Larsson, Eva Serlachius
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1477-7525-10-149) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

All the authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

EHB was the “project leader” for the study, responsible for the data collection, and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. PB contributed with statistical analyses and references to the WHO-5 and BDI-6. GH contributed to the original outlines of the project literature search. JOL was responsible for psychometric references and for methodological issues. ES contributed to the recruitment and diagnostic issues of the clinical sample and was responsible for the overall design of the study. All the authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.



Major depressive disorder is prevalent in the adolescent psychiatric clinical setting and often comorbid with other primary psychiatric diagnoses such as ADHD or social anxiety disorder. Systematic manual-based diagnostic procedures are recommended to identify such comorbidity but they are time-consuming and often not fully implemented in clinical practice. Screening for depressive symptoms in the child psychiatric context using brief, user-friendly and easily managed self-assessment scales may be of clinical value and utility. The aim of the study is to test the psychometric validity of two such scales, which may be used in a two-step screening procedure, the WHO-Five Well-being Index (WHO-5) and the six-item version of Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI-6).


66 adolescent psychiatric patients with a clinical diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD), 60 girls and 6 boys, aged 14–18 years, mean age 16.8 years, completed the WHO-5 scale as well as the BDI-6. Statistical validity was tested by Mokken and Rasch analyses.


The correlation between WHO-5 and BDI-6 was −0.49 (p=0.0001). Mokken analyses showed a coefficient of homogeneity for the WHO-5 of 0.52 and for the BDI-6 of 0.46. Rasch analysis also accepted unidimensionality when testing males versus females (p > 0.05).


The WHO-5 is psychometrically valid in an adolescent psychiatric context including both genders to assess the wellness dimension and applicable as a first step in screening for MDD. The BDI-6 may be recommended as a second step in the screening procedure, since it is statistically valid and has the ability to unidimensionally capture the severity of depressed mood.
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