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Cut-off values for the applied version of the Beck Depression Inventory in a general working population

Background: The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) for the assessment of depressive symptoms is well established in clinical settings. An applied version (BDI-V) was previously developed in German for use within epidemiologic studies. The current study analyses the association between this applied version of the BDI and different measures of functioning. The aim is to determine BDI-V cut-off values when used in a population of employees.

Methods: The study included 6339 employees of the first wave of a German cohort study on work, age, health and work participation. Depressive symptoms were assessed by an applied version of the BDI-V. Data on functioning were obtained from personal interviews. The determination of cut-off values is achieved with the min-max principle for classification applied to receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves.

Results: The min-max principle points to a BDI-V cut-off between 20 and 24 for male and between 23 and 28 for female respondents. The corresponding sensitivities range between 0.64 and 0.75 for males and between 0.59 and 0.74 for females. Specificities range between 0.64 and 0.75 for males and between 0.60 and 0.74 for females. Female respondents have higher BDI-V cut-offs for all criteria.

Conclusions: The range of values is lower than a recommendation in a former study. In addition to this, the values differ for gender. The current analyses focus on an easier-to-use version of the BDI formerly applied for epidemiologic studies. The determination of cut-off values is based on criteria which are indicators for impairment in (work) functioning in a population of employees. Therefore, grouping of individuals according to the reported cut-off values is guided by the relevance of these scores for occupational functioning.

This article is published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2015, 10:24.

Bibliographic information

U. Rose, S. March, M. Ebener, J.-B. du Prel:
Cut-off values for the applied version of the Beck Depression Inventory in a general working population. 
in: Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2015, 10:24 2015. pages 8, Project number: F 2295, DOI: 10.1186/s12995-015-0067-4

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Research Project

Project numberF 2295 StatusCompleted Project Work, Age and Health

Find out more : Work, Age and Health …