Polaris Study: Screening Heart Patients for Depression with a Cardiac-based Assessment Greatly Reduces False Positives

Langhorne, PA (Sept. 22, 2010)– When screening for depression among patients with heart disease, using an assessment that has been designed specifically for cardiac patients is more effective and accurate, according to research from Polaris Health Directions.

In a multi-year study, Polaris assessed 1,000 cardiac patients for depression using Polaris-CV (cardiovascular), a behavioral health outcomes management system for cardiology. The patients were recruited from Golden Gate Cardiology and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, the Cardiovascular Institute and Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, and Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Using questions recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 550 (55 percent) screened positive for depression. Polaris-CV, which considers the unique circumstances of heart disease, determined that 450 patients (45 percent) suffered from some degree of depression, eliminating 100 false-positives.

“Somatic symptoms of depression, such as sleep problems, among cardiac patients may reflect their cardiac disorder rather than depression,” said Dr. Grant Grissom, principal investigator of the study. “Polaris-CV reduces false-positives by using a normed range for cardiac patients rather than the general population, and assessing depression-related conditions that are important to consider when determining treatment options, including ‘watch and wait.’”

The improved accuracy substantially reduced the time medical staff had to spend evaluating depression in patients with only minor symptoms, opening up resources for those patients with more severe levels of depression.

For more information on Polaris-CV or the study, send an e-mail to moreinfo@polarishealth.com. Follow us on Facebook.


The clinical trial was supported by Award Number R44 MH060535 from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute, or the National Institutes of Health.