Patient Perception of Depressive Symptoms in Rheumatic Diseases: A Cross-sectional Survey

Francesca Ingegnoli, Tommaso Schioppo, Tania Ubiali, Silvia Ostuzzi, Valentina Bollati, Massimiliano Buoli, Roberto Caporali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The presented study aimed to explore the presence and the self-identification of depressive symptoms among patients with rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) through the use of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Methods: Between June and October 2019, patients from the regional association for people with RMDs in Lombardy, Italy (ALOMAR), were invited to participate in a cross-sectional online survey. Participants completed PHQ-9 along with a survey about their perception of depressive symptoms. Patients were stratified according to PHQ-9 score as follows: not depressed (<4), subclinical or mild depression (5-9), moderate depression (10-14), moderately severe depression (10-14), and severe depression (20-27). Descriptive statistics and analyses of variance were used to explore data. Results: Of the 192 RMD patients who completed PHQ-9, 35 (18.2%) were not depressed, 68 (35.4%) had subclinical or mild depression, 42 (21.9%) had moderate depression, 30 (15.6%) had moderately severe depression, and 17 (8.9%) had severe depression. Contrary to the above findings, only 16 respondents (8.3%) reported that they experienced depressive symptoms, and only 7 of the 16 were being followed by a psychiatrist. Respondents with higher PHQ-9 scores tended to have concomitant fibromyalgia, to be younger, and to be overweight. Conclusions: The current results indicate the overall burden of depressive symptoms in RMD patients. While clinical depression (PHQ-9 >10) was detected in 41.2% of respondents, only 8.3% reported that they experience depressive symptoms. Routine screening of RMD patients for depression is therefore critical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E18-E22
JournalJournal of Clinical Rheumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Depression
  • Mood disorder
  • Patient perspective
  • PHQ-9
  • Research
  • Rheumatic diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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