The PEARLS Program uses the PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) to assess depression. The PHQ-9 is a nine-question scale that asks respondents to answer how often they experience the cluster of symptoms that defines depression, which isbased on the nine diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fourth Edition). The PHQ-9 can be used as a tool for diagnosing depression (as it is during recruitment and screening) as well as for tracking a client’s overall depression severity and the specific symptoms that are or are not improving with treatment (as it is over the course of the PEARLS sessions).

Why Use the PHQ-9 Instead of Other Depression Scales?

  • It is shorter than many other depression rating scales
  • It can be administered in person, over the telephone or as a self-report
  • It facilitates the diagnosis of major and minor depression
  • It assesses depression symptom severity
  • Research has shown that it is effective in a variety of patients, including adolescent, adult and geriatric populations
  • It is available in multiple languages, including: Arabic, Assamese, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin), Czech, Dutch, Danish, English, Finnish, French, French Canadian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Malay, Malayalam, Norwegian, Oriya, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish (US), Swedish and Telugu

The PHQ-9 is adapted from PRIMEMDTODAY, developed by Drs. Robert L. Spitzer, Janet B.W. Williams, Kurt Kroenke, and colleagues with an educational grant from Pfizer Inc. For research information, contact Dr. Spitzer at The names PRIME-MD® and PRIMEMDTODAY® are trademarks of Pfizer Inc.

While attending the PEARLS Training, participants will receive detailed instruction on the nuances of administering the PHQ-9, as well as suggestions for teaching clients to use the PHQ-9 to self-monitor their depression.

PHQ-9 copyright ® Pfizer Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of Pfizer, Inc. PRIMEMD® is a trademark of Pfizer Inc.

For more information about the terms of use for the PHQ9, including that “You will only use the PHQ-9 in clinical settings (i.e., in a doctor’s office or hospital as a clinical tool), for research purposes, for physician education programs, or in clinical trials”, visit the Pfizer website.