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Open Access Research article

Prevalence and psychopathological characteristics of depression in consecutive otorhinolaryngologic inpatients

Thomas Forkmann1*, Christine Norra2, Markus Wirtz3, Thomas Vehren1, Eftychia Volz-Sidiropoulou1, Martin Westhofen4, Siegfried Gauggel1 and Maren Boecker1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, University Hospital of RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstraße 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

2 Dept. of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, LWL-University-Clinic, Ruhr-University Bochum, Alexandrinenstr. 1-3, 44791 Bochum, Germany

3 Institute of Psychology, University of Education Freiburg, Kartäuserstr. 61b, 79117 Freiburg, Germany

4 Clinic for Otorhinolaryngology, University Hospital of RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstraße 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany

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BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders 2011, 11:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6815-11-7

Published: 31 August 2011



High prevalence of depression has been reported in otorhinolaryngologic patients (ORL). However, studies using a semi-structured interview to determine the prevalence of depression in ORL are lacking. Therefore the present study sought to determine the depression prevalence in ORL applying a semi-structured diagnostic interview and to further characterize the pathopsychological and demographic characteristics of depression in these patients.


One-hundred inpatients of the otorhinolaryngologic department of a German university hospital participated voluntarily (age M = 38.8 years, SD = 13.9; 38.0% female). Depression was assessed using a clinical interview in which the International Diagnostic Checklist for depression (IDCL) was applied. Patients completed the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) which constitutes three composite scores and nine symptom scales and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Multivariate analyses of variance, correlations and effect sizes were conducted.


A prevalence of depression of 21.0% was determined, 38.0% of the depressed patients were female. Depressed patients showed higher scores on the BSI-scales "interpersonal sensitivity", "depression", "anxiety", "phobic anxiety" and "psychoticism" with medium effect sizes.


High prevalence of depression was found which is in accordance with results of prior studies. Depressed patients showed higher psychological distress as compared to non-depressed patients. The results call for carrying on in engaging in depression research and routine depression screening in ORL.

prevalence; pathopsychology; depression; otolaryngologic inpatients; otorhinolaryngology