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Global Mental Health

International Depression Symptoms Screener (IDSS)

Electronic SurveyStandard instruments used to screen or diagnose depression were developed based on Western models of depression, frequently based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).  Research has shown that these instruments may only partially capture the experience of depression in populations around the world.  To address this concern, we developed the International Depression Symptom Scale (IDSS), a self-report instrument to be used for measuring the burden and severity of depression around the world.

We created the IDSS based on a systematic review of global qualitative research to identify common signs and symptoms of depression across regions, sex and context (Haroz et al. 2017) and a statistical analysis, using Item Response Theory (IRT), of depression data from eight distinct cultural settings (Haroz et al. 2016). The IDSS combines symptoms that were commonly reported in qualitative studies and which performed the best in the statistical analyses.

The IDSS includes 29 items in the global version (IDSS-G) with the option for adding additional items based on local context (IDSS local; IDSS-L). The IDSS has now been validated in three different settings with adults: 1) Yangon, Myanmar; 2) Karen State, Myanmar; and 3) Kiev and Zaporiziha, Ukraine.  Reports on the validation studies and the IDSS measure are available by request


Haroz, E. E., Bolton, P., Gross, A., Chan, K. S., Michalopoulos, L., & Bass, J. (2016). Depression symptoms across cultures: an IRT analysis of standard depression symptoms using data from eight countries. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology51(7), 981-991.
Haroz, E. E., Ritchey, M., Bass, J. K., Kohrt, B. A., Augustinavicius, J., Michalopoulos, L., ... & Bolton, P. (2017). How is depression experienced around the world? A systematic review of qualitative literature. Social Science & Medicine, 183, 151-162.