Validity of the self reporting questionnaire-20 in epidemiological studies with older adults

Results from the Sao Paulo Ageing & Health Study
  • Marcia Scazufca
  • Paulo R. Menezes
  • Homero Vallada
  • Ricardo Araya



This study examined the validity of the self-reporting questionnaire (SRQ-20) in a population-based survey with older adults in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


The study sample consisted of 2,008 individuals aged 65 years or more who were living in an economically disadvantaged area of the city. The geriatric mental state (GMS) was used as the gold standard for the assessment of common mental disorders (CMD).


The optimal SRQ-20 threshold for case definition was 4/5 (sensitivity = 76.1%, specificity = 74.6%, area under ROC curve = 0.82). Women, older participants and those with lower income were more likely to be misclassified by the questionnaire. The inclusion of older persons with dementia or psychosis did not change the ability of the SRQ-20 to identify cases of CMD.


The SRQ-20 may be a useful instrument to be used in large epidemiological studies in resource-poor settings for the identification of cases of depression and anxiety in later life. The performance of the SRQ-20 among older adults was similar to that observed with the adult population in Brazil.


common mental disorders depression ageing questionnaire epidemiology 



The authors wish to thank the Wellcome Trust (grant code GR066133MA) and the CNPQ-Brazil for financial support. M. Scazufca was supported by the Wellcome Trust and CNPQ-Brazil during the development of this work. P. R. Menezes and H. P. Vallada were partly funded by CNPQ-Brazil. We thank professor Martin Prince for helping with the acquisition of funding.


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcia Scazufca
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paulo R. Menezes
    • 2
    • 3
  • Homero Vallada
    • 1
  • Ricardo Araya
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of Psychiatry, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Sao PauloSao PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Academic Unity of Psychiatry, Dept. of Community Based MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Dept. of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of Sao PauloSao PauloBrazil

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