Date of Degree


Document Type

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Dianne Lavin


Carrie A. Davis


Project Background: Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. Many individuals may seek treatment but go undiagnosed due to the lack of recognition by clinicians. Clinical guidelines recommend the use of a standardized depression screening tool within a clinician’s evaluation process. The Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) is such a tool and recommended for use in the outpatient care setting. Aims of the Project: To increase depression screening of clients at a hospital-based outpatient behavioral health clinic. Purpose and Objectives: Implementation of the PHQ-9 into the clinic’s mental health assessment process to increase the rate of depression screening from 0% to 80%. To accomplish this objective the clinic’s therapist were educated regarding national guidelines and recommendations. Depression screening using the PHQ-9 was completed on a weekly basis with documentation of clients scores in an Excel spreadsheet. Results: The final participant sample included 42 clients admitted to the outpatient clinic during the 4-week period. At the conclusion of the project a total of 120 PHQ-9s were administered and 97 were completed, resulting in an average of 78.8% overall therapist’s administration rate for the PHQ-9. This rate increase was a significant improvement for the clinic. Implications for Practice: Consistent use of a standardized depression screening tool such as the PHQ-9 can facilitate identification, diagnosis and treatment of depression and aid in improving client outcomes.