Beck Depression Inventory Carlos F. Martinez, M.Ed., MHA carlosFmartinez.com
General Test Information Title of Test: Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II). Author: Aaron T. Beck, Robert A. Steer, and Gregory K. Brown. Publisher: The Psychological Corporation, 1996 (revision). Time to administer test: about 5 to10 minutes.
General Test Information Cost: BDI-II Complete Kit (Beck’s Institute)- Includes Manual and 25 Record Forms…$110.00 Restrictions in Administration: “C Level” qualification. Users must be licensed, certified or have a doctoral degree in psychology or related field.
Purpose and Nature of the Test Type: individual or group. Purpose: to assess the existence and severity of symptoms of depression, not to diagnose. Population: adults and adolescents 13 years of age and older. Population for which designated: it is intended to assess the severity of depression in psychiatrically diagnosed patients. Nature of content: Verbal (21 questions) with numerical score for each question.
Purpose and Nature of the Test (Cont..). Types of Items: Clients choose statements to describe themselves in terms of the following 21 areas: sadness, pessimism, past failure, loss of pleasure, guilty feelings, punishment feelings, self- dislike, self-criticalness, suicidal thoughts or wishes, crying, agitation, loss of interest, indecisiveness, worthlessness, loss of energy, changes in sleeping pattern, irritability, changes in appetite, concentration difficulty, tiredness or
Practical Evaluation Qualitative features: the BDI-II addresses the major components of clinical depression, both the psychological and physiological symptoms, and it certainly is portable! Ease of administration and clarity of directions: instructions are straightforward and clearly stated. The BDI-II is also very user- friendly in terms of ease and speed of administration.
Practical Evaluation Scoring: each answer is scored on a scale value of 0 to 3 and then combined with all other answers to calculate a total score:• 0 – 13: minimal depression• 14–19: mild depression• 20–28: moderate depression• 29–63: severe depression
Practical Evaluation (Cont.) Examiner Qualifications and Training: Little training is required to administer or score the test. However, the interpretation of the final score requires a professional with clinical training and experience (“C” Level).
Technical EvaluationStandardization sampleStudent Sample: 120 college students from University of New Brunswick in Canada 56% women 44% men 100% White
Technical Evaluation Reliability: a one-week test-retest correlation of .93 resulted from a study of 26 outpatients who had been referred for depression and took the BDI-II during their first and second therapy sessions (Beck et al., 1996).
Technical Evaluation Validity: One of the main objectives of this new version of the BDI was to have it conform more closely to the diagnostic criteria for depression listed on the DSM-IV. It has demonstrated strong evidence of convergent validity (i.e. r= .71 with the Hamilton Psychiatric Rating Scale for Depression – HRSD).
Cultural Evaluation Not enough research on the psychometric properties of the BDI-II among minority groups. The standardization sample is not demographically representative of the U.S. population. Minority populations were extremely under- represented.
Cultural Evaluation There is no information regarding socioeconomic status or residential location of test users. Most tests are based on western (US) definitions and cultural practices, so clinicians should be cautious when using it. I would use it since there are no culture-free tests.
Reviewer’s Comments Dr. Elizabeth Peterson-Vita (Clinical Director at Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health) has used the BDI-II more than 2,000 times and recommends it.Strengths: Helpful to get empirical scores for depression. Can use it again a few days later to track symptoms. It has a high internal consistency. It also has high content validity.
Reviewer’s CommentsWeaknesses: Like other instruments it’s not like a blood test where you get a more accurate result. Clients can minimize or exaggerate when answering. In her experience adolescents usually minimize. Other clients may exaggerate to seek disability and compensation. Cannot treat it as if it speaks the “truth.”
Summary Evaluation The BDI-II is probably one the most used inventories when measuring depression. Many clinicians use it to assist them when measuring the severity of depression in clients. Like many other inventories, there are limitations and problems.
Resources Beck Institute website (www.beckinstitute.org) Beck Depression Inventory Manual Mental Measurements Yearbook. Personal communication with Dr. Elizabeth Peterson-Vita (Clinical Director at Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health)