Prevalence of Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Workers With Upper Extremity Complaints Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Study Design Cross-sectional cohort study. Background Symptoms of depression, panic disorder (PD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been associated with musculoskeletal complaints and could represent barriers to recovery in injured workers. Objectives To determine the prevalence of symptoms of depression, PD, and PTSD utilizing the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) in a cohort of patients presenting to an upper extremity injured-worker clinic; secondarily, to identify any relationships between patients screening positive and patient-reported outcome measures. Methods In 2010, 418 patients completed the PHQ during their initial evaluation. Patients with PHQ scores exceeding threshold values for symptoms of depression, PD, or PTSD were compared based on patient-reported outcome scores, including the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire (DASH) and Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36). The prevalence of symptoms, and their relationship with presenting complaints and patient-reported outcomes, were calculated. Results Thirty-one percent of patients scored above thresholds for symptoms of at least 1 mental health disorder. Of those who screened positive, 67% screened positive for depression, 44% for PTSD, and 50% for PD, with 43% of patients positive for multiple symptoms. Patients experiencing neck pain had significantly higher screening rates of depressive symptoms (62.5% versus 20.1%, P = .004) and PD (37.5% versus 12.9%, P = .044) compared with other presenting complaints. Similarly, patients with chronic pain had higher rates of depression (54.5% versus 20.1%, P = .006), PD (63.6% versus 12%, P<.001), and PTSD (36.4% versus 14.8%, P = .05) compared with other presenting complaints. Patients endorsing depressive symptoms had significantly lower SF-36 mental component summary scores (26.3 ± 10.7 versus 37.6 ± 9.9, P<.001) and higher shortened-version DASH (72.3 ± 16.7 versus 61.5 ± 11.1, P = .003) and DASH work scores (86.5 ± 19.2 versus 82.1 ± 20.1, P = .007) compared to patients endorsing other items on the PHQ. Conclusion In this prospective cohort study of injured workers, we identified a relatively high prevalence of symptoms of psychological disorders utilizing the PHQ, with one third of injured workers screening positive for symptoms of depression, PD, or PTSD. Further longitudinal follow-up is necessary to determine the impact on treatment outcomes. Level of Evidence Symptom prevalence, level 1b. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2016;46(7):590-595. Epub 12 May 2016. doi:10.2519/jospt.2016.6265.


  • Degen, Ryan M
  • MacDermid, Joy
  • Grewal, Ruby
  • Drosdowech, Darren S
  • Faber, Kenneth J
  • Athwal, George S

publication date

  • July 2016

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