Depression screening in black Americans with multiple sclerosis

Lara M. Stepleman, Matthew Decker, Michael Rollock, Rhonda Casillas, Tricia Brands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Depression is prevalent in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and impacts treatment adherence. Depression screening may be a useful mechanism to identify Blacks at risk for depression in an MS setting, as they frequently experience more disabling MS disease and also may be less likely than Whites to be accurately diagnosed with depression, which can further impact MS disease and diminish quality of life. The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical presentation (e.g. psychiatric histories, current symptoms, and provider treatment recommendations) of Black and White MS patients identified as at risk for depression using a validated depression screening instrument. Secondary analysis of an archival chart data-set of 279 MS patients (90 Blacks) indicated that Black patients were less likely than Whites to have a past mental health diagnosis (X2 = 12.794, p <.001), prior experience with psychotropics (X2 = 11.394, p <.001), or be prescribed psychotropics at the time of screening (X2 = 10.225, p <.001). No differences in depression scores were observed between Black and White patients. Approximately 44% of patients received provider treatment recommendations following a positive screening with no between group differences in the likelihood of receiving at least one recommendation. Consistent with the literature, our Black patient sample was less likely than Whites to have a history of mental health diagnosis or to have been treated with psychotropics. Although more research is needed, screening programs for depression in MS may facilitate access to services for all MS patients while reducing health disparities in Black American patients and removing barriers to early intervention and ongoing care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-39
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2014


  • Blacks
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • depression
  • health disparities
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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