Developing an algorithm capable of discriminating depressed mood in people with spinal cord injury

A. Craig*, D. Rodrigues, Y. Tran, Rebecca Guest, R. Bartrop, J. Middleton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Study design: Cross-section design. 

Objectives: The development of reliable screen technology for predicting those at risk of depression in the long-term remains a challenge. The objective of this research was to determine factors that classify correctly adults with spinal cord injury (SCI) with depressed mood and to develop a diagnostic algorithm that could be applied for prediction of depressed mood in the long-term. 

Setting: SCI rehabilitation unit, rehabilitation outpatient clinic and Australian community. 

Methods: Participants included 107 adults with SCI. The assessment regimen included demographic and injury variables, negative mood states, pain intensity, health-related quality of life and self-efficacy. Participants were divided into those with 'normal' mood versus those with elevated depressed mood. Discriminant function analysis (DFA) was then used to isolate factors that in combination, best classify the presence or absence of depressed mood. 

Results: At the time of assessment, 24 participants (22.4%) had elevated depressed mood. DFA identified six factors that discriminated between those with depressed mood (P<0.01) and those with normal mood, explaining 61% of the variance. Factors consisted of pain intensity, mental health, emotional and social functioning, self-efficacy and fatigue. DFA correctly classified 91.7% (n=22 of 24) of those with depressed mood and 95.2% (n=79 of 83) of those without. Demographic, injury and physical health function variables were not found to discriminate depressed mood. 

Conclusion: Clinical implications of applying a diagnostic algorithm for detecting depression in adults with SCI are discussed. Prospective research is needed to test the predictive efficacy of the algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-416
Number of pages4
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • quality of life
  • rehabilitation
  • spinal cord injury


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