PHQ-9 Depression Scale Questionnaire

Updated: April 9, 2024

The PHQ-9 is a measurement tool providers can use to ensure measurement-based treatment to target within Collaborative Care. This concise nine-item health questionnaire can function as a screening tool, aids in diagnosis, and measures treatment response.

Advantages of the PHQ-9

Patient filling out PHQ-9

  • It is shorter than other depression rating scales
  • Multiple administration options (in person by a clinician, by telephone, or self-administered by the patient)
  • Facilitates diagnosis of major depression
  • Assesses symptom severity
  • Well-validated and documented in a variety of populations
  • Directly based on the nine diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder in the DSM-5
  • Valid for use in adolescents as young as 12 years of age

How to Use the PHQ-9

At the initial visit, the PHQ-9 aids in the diagnosis and identification of potential depressive symptoms. At follow-up visits, it measures treatment response. The Questionnaire can be clinician or self-administered.

Scoring the PHQ-9

The PHQ-9 is a tool to assist clinicians in identifying and diagnosing major depression. It has a maximum score of 27. Elevated scores strongly correlate with a major depression diagnosis. However, it’s essential to remember that not everyone with a high PHQ-9 score will have major depression. Trained clinicians must make the final diagnosis.

Patient Health Questionnaire 2 (PHQ-2)

The Patient Health Questionnaire 2 (PHQ-2) effectively screens large groups for depression. It consists of the first two questions on the PHQ-9. If the patient responds affirmatively to either question on the PHQ-2, the PHQ-9 should be administered. No permission is required to reproduce, translate, display, or distribute the PHQ-2.

PHQ-9 Questionnaire and Translations

The PHQ-9, translations of the measure, and an instruction manual are available at No permission is required to reproduce, translate, display, or distribute the PHQ-9.

Protocols for Suicide Prevention

The PHQ-9 asks about suicidal ideation, and clinics should have a plan in place for when a patient scores positive on this question. The Protocols for Suicide Prevention in Primary Care assists clinics in refining existing protocol(s) for responding to patients who present with suicidality or violent behavior.

PHQ-9 Aids

Introducing the PHQ-9

To increase staff comfort in discussing the PHQ-9 with patients, the AIMS Center provides the Helping Clinic Staff Talk about the PHQ-9 tool. This resource equips clinic staff to administer the PHQ-9 by addressing commonly asked patient questions.

PHQ-9 Visual Answer Aid 

This answer aid visually represents the PHQ-9 answer scale: English | Spanish.