Open Access Open Badges Research article

Validity of a self-reported diagnosis of depression among participants in a cohort study using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-I)

Almudena Sanchez-Villegas12*, Javier Schlatter3, Felipe Ortuno3, Francisca Lahortiga3, Jorge Pla3, Silvia Benito2 and Miguel A Martinez-Gonzalez2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Sciencies, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

2 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Navarra, Spain

3 Department de Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, University of Navarra, Spain

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BMC Psychiatry 2008, 8:43  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-43

Published: 17 June 2008



Depression assessment in population studies is usually based on depressive symptoms scales. However, the use of scales could lead to the choice of an arbitrary cut-off point depending on the sample characteristics and on the patient diagnosis. Thus, the use of a medical diagnosis of depression could be a more appropriate approach.


To validate a self-reported physician diagnosis of depression using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-I) as Gold Standard and to assess the factors associated to a valid self-reported diagnosis.


The SUN Project is a cohort study based on university graduates followed-up through postal questionnaires. The response to the question included in the questionnaire: Have you ever been diagnosed of depression by a physician? was compared to that obtained through the SCID-I applied by a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist. The percentages of confirmed depression and non-depression were assessed for the overall sample and according to several characteristics. Logistic regression models were fitted to ascertain the association between different factors and a correct classification regarding depression status.


The percentage of confirmed depression was 74.2%; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 63.3–85.1. Out of 42 participants who did not report a depression diagnosis in the questionnaire, 34 were free of the disease (%confirmed non-depression = 81.1%; 95% CI = 69.1–92.9). The probability of being a true positive was higher among ex-smokers and non-smokers and among those overweight or obese but the differences were not statistically significant.


The validity of a self-reported diagnosis of depression in the SUN cohort is adequate. Thus, this question about depression diagnosis could be used in further investigations regarding this disease in this graduate cohort study.