Assessment of depression prevalence in rural Uganda using symptom and function criteria

Paul Bolton, Christopher M. Wilk, Lincoln Ndogoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Background. We sought to assess the prevalence of major depression in a region of sub-Saharan Africa severely affected by HIV, using symptom and functional criteria as measured with locally validated instruments. Method. Six hundred homes in the Masaka and Rakai districts of southwest Uganda were selected by weighted systematic random sampling. A locally validated version of the depression section of the Hopkins Symptom Check List (DHSCL) and a community-generated index of functional impairment were used to interview 587 respondents. Results. Of respondents, 21% were diagnosed with depression using three of the five DSM-IV criteria (including function impairment) compared with 24.4% using symptom criteria alone. Increased age and lower educational levels are associated with a greater risk for depression; however, a gender effect was not detected. Conclusions. Most community-based assessments of depression in sub-Saharan Africa based on the DSM-IV have used symptom criteria only. We found that expanding criteria to more closely match the complete DSM-IV is feasible, thereby making more accurate assessments of prevalence possible. This approach suggests that major depression and associated functional impairment are a substantial problem in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-447
Number of pages6
JournalSocial psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Functional disability
  • Prevalence
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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