A systematic evaluation of the adaptation of depression diagnostic methods for stroke survivors who have aphasia.

Research paper by Ellen E Townend, Marian M Brady, Kirsty K McLaughlan

Indexed on: 13 Oct '07Published on: 13 Oct '07Published in: Stroke; a journal of cerebral circulation


One in 3 stroke survivors has aphasia (impaired language comprehension and expressive abilities). Conventionally, depression diagnosis uses language-based methods. We aimed to systematically review methods that have been used to diagnose depression and adaptations to these methods intended for people with aphasia.We systematically reviewed stroke studies (to January 2006) that included a depression diagnosis and individuals with aphasia. We extracted data related to depression diagnostic methods used for individuals with/without aphasia. We sought clarification from authors when required.A total of 60 studies included people with aphasia. Almost half the studies (29/60; 48%) adapted their main depression diagnostic method (most typically a clinical interview and published criteria) for individuals with aphasia. Adaptive methods included: using informants (relatives or staff), clinical observation, modifying questions and visual analogue scales. Evidence of the validity or reliability of these adaptations was rarely reported. However, use of informants or clinical observation did achieve the inclusion of most people with aphasia in the diagnosis of depression. Remaining studies, that did not report adaptive methods, suggested that conventional language-based methods are suitable for individuals with only 'mild' aphasia.People with aphasia can be and have been included in depression diagnostic assessments. However, we suggest that depression and language experts collaborate to develop a more valid method of depression diagnosis for patients with aphasia that has good reliability.