Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 122, Issue 2, pp 573–578 | Cite as

Evaluation of screening instruments for depression and anxiety in breast cancer survivors

  • Susanna Alexander
  • Clare Palmer
  • Patrick C. StoneEmail author
Brief Report


Although cases of anxiety and depression post-breast cancer can be reliably identified using a structured psychiatric interview, such interviews are time consuming for both practitioner and patient and effective screening tools would increase detection rates. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Edinburgh Depression Scale (EDS) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) in screening for depression and anxiety in a population of breast cancer survivors. For this purpose, The Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders was administered to 200 breast cancer survivors to identify those suffering from an anxiety and/or depressive disorder. All study participants also completed the EDS and the HADS. Using the recommended cut-off score of >12 to screen for depression, the sensitivity and specificity of the EDS were found to be 72 and 90%, respectively. Lowering the cut-off score to >9 resulted in a sensitivity of 94% and a specificity of 78%. At the recommended cut-off score of >10, the HADS had a sensitivity of 50% and a specificity of 97% for depression, and a sensitivity of 71% and a specificity of 86% when screening for anxiety. A HADS total score (HADS-T) of >13 and an EDS of >9 had sensitivities of 96 and 91% and specificities of 74 and 84%, respectively, in screening for anxiety and/or depression. In conclusion, the study demonstrated that both the EDS and HADS can be used reliably as screening tests for anxiety and depression in this cohort. In both cases, a lower cut-off score than normally recommended delivers optimal screening properties.


Breast neoplasms Depression Anxiety Mass screening Sensitivity and specificity 



We would like to thank Dr. Janine Mansi, Mr. D. Banerjee, Mr. A. Sharma, Sue Lownes, RGN, Joe Diffley, RGN, Dr. Catherine Cole- man, Dr. Charlotte Rees, and Sarah White. This study was funded by Cancer Research UK (CRUK), Grant Number 11075/A7143.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanna Alexander
    • 1
  • Clare Palmer
    • 1
  • Patrick C. Stone
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Mental HealthSt George’s University of LondonLondonUK

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