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MDE Screener - Major Depression Episode Screener

The MDE (Major Depression Episode) Screener was adapted from the major depression items in the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS). The MDE screener (also referred to as the "Mood Screener" for laypersons) was designed to screen for the presence of current and lifetime Criterion A and C of the DSM-IV MDE symptom cluster. It is intended to screen for three groups according to self-report: 1) those with no history of MDEs, 2) those with a past history of MDEs, and 3) those with current MDEs. It is not intended to be a diagnostic tool.



MDE Screener

Ricardo F. Muñoz, Ph.D.

Muñoz, R.F. (1998). Preventing major depression by promoting emotion regulation: A conceptual framework and some practical tools. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion (Inaugural issue, September 1998), 23-40. Muñoz, McQuaid, Gonzalez, Dimas, & Rosales (1999). Depression screening in a women's clinic: Using automated Spanish- and English-language voice recognition. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(4), 502-510.

Domain Assessed: 
Services and Systems
Age Range: 
Measure Type: 
Measure Format: 


Number of Items: 
Average Time to Complete (min): 
Reporter Type: 
Average Time to Score (min): 
Last two weeks
Response Format: 

Items are rated as Yes or No.

Materials Needed: 
Sample Items: 
DomainsScaleSample Items
Depression Felt sad, blue, or depressed most of the day nearly
every day.
Information Provided: 
Areas of Concern/Risks
Continuous Assessment
Diagnostic Info DSM IV
Dichotomous Assessment
Raw Scores


Training to Administer: 
Prior Experience in Psych Testing/Interpretation

Parallel or Alternate Forms

Parallel Forms: 
Alternate Forms: 
Different Age Forms: 
Altered Version Forms: 
Alternative Forms Description: 

Maternal Mood Screener (Le & Muñoz, 1998). Uses the same 18-item scale, but somatic symptoms that can be attributed to pregnancy (pre- or post-natal) are queried by asking responder to indicate if she attributes symptom to pregnancy. This version of the MDE screener is available at no charge from


Clinical Cutoffs: 
Clinical Cutoffs Description: 

Positive endorsement of 5 to 9 of the depression symptoms (including symptoms 1 or 2 and endorsement of the final Severity question), which are present for at least 2 weeks, screens positive for a possible MDE.

Parallel/Alternate FormsAcceptableKappa0.820.820.82
References for Reliability: 

There are no data on the test-retest reliability of the MDE screener. Muñoz et al. (1999) examined the agreement between computer and face-to-face administration of the MDE Screener and reported a kappa of .82 for current depression and a kappa of .82 for a lifetime history of depression.

References for Content Validity: 

The content validity of the MDE Screener has not been examined, but items were developed based on the DSM-IV criteria.

Construct Validity: 
Validity TypeNot knownNot foundNonclincal SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
References for Construct Validity: 

1. Kappas between the MDE screener and the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders (PRIME-MD) were .75 for live interviews and .81 for the computerized version of the MDE Screener (Muñoz et al., 1999). 2. Psychometrics were examined with a sample of 554 women aged 18-34 recruited from a university in Spain. Kappa between the SCID-CV and the MDE screener was .76.

Criterion Validity: 
Not KnownNot FoundNonclinical SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Predictive Validity:YesYes
References for Criterion Validity: 

(Vasquez, Muñoz, Blanco, & Lopez, unpublished). These data are presented above and examine the validity of the MDE Screener using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders – Clinical Version (SCID-CV) as the criterion. In addition, MDE history groups identified by the MDE Screener predict likelihood of quitting smoking (see Muñoz et al., 1997; Muñoz et al., 2006) with lower quit rates for current MDE and higher quit rates for those meeting criteria for a lifetime MDE.

Sensitivity Rate Score: 
Specificity Rate Score: 
Positive Predictive Power: 
Negative Predictive Power: 
Overall Psychometric Limitations: 

Norms have not been established/published and only limited psychometric analyses have been conducted.


Translation Quality: 
Language:TranslatedBack TranslatedReliableGood PsychometricsSimilar Factor StructureNorms AvailableMeasure Developed for this Group
1. SpanishYesYesYesYesYes

Population Information

Population Used for Measure Development: 

1. Primary-care patients at an urban public-sector hospital (San Francisco General Hospital; n=104; Muñoz, Lenert, Delucchi, Stoddard, Perez, Penilla, & Perez-Stable, 1999). The sample included 56 English-speaking and 48 Spanish-speaking women (mean age=33.7, SD=10.02). 2. Spanish-speaking Latino smokers in a stop-smoking randomized trial via the mail (n=136; Muñoz et al., 1997). Participants were 84 men and 52 women (mean age=35.3). 3. Smokers seeking to stop smoking via the Internet (n=4000+; Muñoz et al., 2006). English-speaking participants were 936 men and 2,118 women. Spanish-speaking participants were 629 men and 361 women.

Use with Diverse Populations: 
Population Type: Measure Used with Members of this GroupMembers of this Group Studied in Peer-Reviewed JournalsReliableGood PsychometricsNorms AvailableMeasure Developed for this Group
1. Lower Socio-economic statusYesYesYesYesYesYes

Pros & Cons/References


1. User friendly, simple administration. 2. Adapted from a well-established diagnostic interview, the DIS. 3. Developed in Spanish and English simultaneously. 4. Short administration time to detect a possible Major Depressive Episode. 5. Free and easy to obtain.


1. Limited psychometric data. Test-retest reliability has not been examined. 2. While the measure would yield a score on the number of symptoms endorsed, whether the symptoms were present for 2 weeks or more, and whether the symptoms met severity criteria, it does not yield information regarding the frequency or intensity with which individual symptoms are experienced. This is appropriate, given that the measure is meant to be used as a screener, but it does mean that the measure may not be appropriate to examine specific symptom intensity over time. NOT A CON, JUST A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Potential misuse if treated as a diagnostic tool instead of a screening tool, that is, if diagnoses are assigned based solely on the raw score or if decisions are made by someone with limited clinical experience. See specific warnings about this in Miller & Muñoz, 2005, pp. 140-143.

Author Comments: 

The author provided feedback, which was integrated, as well as permission to post the measure on the NCTSN website.


A PsychInfo search (6/05) for “MDE Screener” or “Mood Screener” anywhere revealed that the measure has been referenced in 3 published journal articles. Consultation with the author identified additional articles. Huynh-Nhu, L., Muñoz, R.F., Soto, J.A., Delucchi, K.L., & Ghosh Ippen, C. (2004). Identifying risk for onset of major depressive episodes in low-income Latinas during pregnancy and postpartum. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 26(4), 463-482. Miller, W.R., & Muñoz, R.F. (2005). Controlling your drinking. New York: Guilford Press, 140-143. Muñoz, R.F., Lenert, L.L., Delucchi, K., Stoddard, J., Perez, J.E., Penilla, C, & Perez-Stable, E. (2006). Toward evidence-based Internet interventions: A Spanish/English web site for international smoking cessation trials. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 8, 77-87. Muñoz, R.F., Marin, B.V., Posner, S.F., & Perez-Stable, E.J. (1997). Mood management mail intervention increases abstinence rates for Spanish-speaking Latino smokers. American Journal of Community Psychology, 25(3), 325-343. Muñoz, R.F., McQuaid, J.R., Gonzalez, G.M., Dimas, J., & Rosales, V. (1999). Depression screening in a women's clinic: Using automated Spanish- and English-language voice recognition. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(4), 502-510. Stoddard, J., Delucchi, K.L., Muñoz, R.F., Collins, N.M., Perez-Stable, E.J., Augustson, E., & Lenert, L.L. (2005). Smoking cessation research via the Internet: A feasibility study. Journal of Health Communication, 10, 27-41. Tsai, J.L., Pole, N., Levenson, R., & Muñoz, R.F. (2003). The effects of depression on the emotional responses of Spanish-speaking Latinas. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 9(1), 49-63. Other Related References Le, H.N., & Muñoz, R.F. (1998). The Maternal Mood Screener (MMS). Unpublished questionnaire, University of California, San Francisco.

Developer of Review: 
Alinne Barrera, Ph.D.
Editor of Review: 
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D.
Last Updated: 
Friday, January 10, 2014