Depressive symptoms and mental health service utilization among persons with limb loss: Results of a national survey

Beth D. Darnall, Patti Ephraim, Stephen T. Wegener, Timothy Dillingham, Liliana Pezzin, Paddy Rossbach, Ellen J. MacKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the prevalence of depressive symptoms, risk factors, and mental health service utilization in a national limb-loss sample. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Participants were interviewed by telephone. Participants: A stratified sample by etiology of 914 persons with limb loss, derived from people who contacted the Amputee Coalition of America from 1998 to 2000. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Center for Epidemiologic Study Depression Scale (CES-D 10-item), pain bothersomeness, characteristics of the amputation, sociodemographics, and mental health service utilization. Results: Prevalence for significant depressive symptoms (CES-D score, <10) was 28.7%. Risk factors included being divorced or separated, living at the near-poverty level, having comorbid conditions, being somewhat bothered or extremely bothered by back pain and phantom limb pain, and having residual limb pain for persons aged 18 to 54. Having higher education was a buffer against depressive symptoms. Almost 22% of the sample and 44.6% of persons with significant depressive symptoms received mental health service in the previous year. For persons with significant depressive symptoms, 32.9% reported needing mental health service but not receiving them, and 67.1% reported not needing mental health service. Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are prevalent among persons with limb loss. Proper management of pain and medical comorbidity may mitigate depressive symptoms. Education about depressive symptoms and treatment options may improve receipt of mental health service among persons with limb loss reporting significant levels of depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-658
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Amputees
  • Depression
  • Pain
  • Prevalence
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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