Two self-rating scales for depression in Hmong refugees: Assessment in clinical and nonclinical samples

Joseph Westermeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


An exploratory cross-cultural study was undertaken of two widely used self-rating scales: the Zung and the Depression Scale on the 90 Item Symptom Checklist, or SCL-Depression. Both scales were translated into Hmong and tested in two samples of Hmong refugees in the U.S.A. One sample (n=86) consisted of a field survey of all Hmong people living in Minnesota. Of the 86, 15 sought treatment and were diagnosed as having major depression during the year following their self rating, so that a comparison of patients' scores with nonpatients' scores was possible. The other sample consisted of another 51 Hmong psychiatric patients with major depression. This second group was also assessed by four psychiatric rating scales (i.e. Hamilton Depression Scale, brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, Inpatient Multidimensional Rating Scale, and Nurse's Observation Scale for Inpatient Evaluation) and two measures of treatment intensity (i.e. number of visits, duration of treatment). In the general Hmong population (n=86), both self-rating scales were highly intercorrelated, and strongly associated with patient status. In the patient sample (n=51), only the SCL-Depression showed any correlations with psychiatric rating scales or with treatment variables. This is contrary to the anticipated outcome, as it had been expected that the Zung would perform better than the SCL-Depression. In addition, duration of treatment was inversely correlated with the SCL-Depression, also opposite to our prediction. Probable causes for these unexpected results are presented. An item analysis was undertaken, comparing 71 Hmong survey subjects who were not treated for depression with 51 Hmong psychiatric patients who were treated for depression. Most Zung and SCL-Depression items showed significantly higher symptom levels in the depressed patients. However, non-depressed controls unexpectedly reported significantly higher symptom levels on certain items. No significant differences were observed on several Zung and SCL items. These unexpected findings are discussed in light of the refugee's adjustment and experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1986

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Arkno~/~r/Xe,,lertrs-This study \+as supported in part by the Minnesota hledical Foundation, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and the National Institutes of Mental Health (Grant No. 1 RO I-MHG36580-01). hlr. Tou Fu Vang and MS Gaohli I.yfong assisted with the collection of these data. The Minnesota Hmong Association provided invaluable support. Dr James Butcher, Profcs,or of Psycholog) at the University of Minnesota, guided the author in the analysis and interpretation of the results. Dr Michael Farnsworth provided statistical consultation, and Mr John Neider assisted with data tabulation and computer-assisted data analysis.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Two self-rating scales for depression in Hmong refugees: Assessment in clinical and nonclinical samples'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this