Depression Screening as a Service Learning Activity in Community Health Nursing
Hanks, Robert Gordon
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(41st Biennial Convention) Integrating service learning into baccalaureate nursing courses has been viewed as a positive enhancement to the learning process for both nursing student and the service recipient. This particular service learning event involved nursing students screening low income Latino patients for depression using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and a brief demographic survey at a free clinic in a large southwestern metropolitan area. In this IRB approved study, patients were screened before seeing the medical provider by nursing students trained in the use of the PHQ-9 and supervised by nursing faculty. Spanish and English versions of the PHQ-9 were available to patients; however, for this sample 92.8% of the participants chose the Spanish language version. The majority of the participants, 83.1%, cited physical health issues as the reason for the clinic visit. The results of screening 83 patients indicated that the majority, 65.1%, scored in the depression severity of "none" category, followed by "mild" (18.1%), "moderate" (6.0%), and "moderately severe (4.8%). Only 6% of participants scored in the "severe" category. The implications of this screening were not only that patients were screened for potential depression, but that nursing students were able to provide needed depression screening to a medically underserved community of Latino patients. The screening not only reinforced the service learning component of the clinical rotation in that the students could realize the tangible results of their own actions with the depression screening, but brought awareness to the students of this readily available and easily administered clinical depression screening tool. Additionally, the use of the PHQ-9 enhanced the students' attention to depression in the outpatient community health setting and alerted students to the need to address previously unidentified mental health needs.