Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is associated with emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, fear, and decreased quality of life. A method to rapidly screen patients at elevated risk for VTE-related emotional distress could allow providers to facilitate appropriate interventions.
Objective: To develop a short, easily administered screening tool that can reliably identify emotional distress in patients recently diagnosed with VTE.
Methods: An analysis was performed on extant data from a cross-sectional national online survey of adult patients who recently suffered VTE episodes. The survey included eight questions developed by our team to assess VTE-related emotional distress, as well as the validated Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Psychometric analysis was used to evaluate our emotional distress questions for internal consistency and determine associations with HADS anxiety and depression scores.
Results: A total of 907 surveys were included in the analysis. Factor analysis of the proposed eight questions identified a single factor with an eigenvalue of 5.42. There was a significant and strong correlation with the HADS Anxiety (HADS-A) and HADS Depression (HADS-D) subscale scores, (r=0.71 and r=0.57, respectively), both p-values <0.005. A total score of 10 using our new emotional distress screening tool correlated with HADS-A and HADS-D scores of 10.5 and 9.0, respectively.
Conclusions: We developed and tested a new brief screening tool composed of 8 questions that assess the specific population of patients with VTE for emotional distress and is easily administered in a clinical setting. Additional investigations in broader populations and in validation studies are required to confirm these findings and foster the scales routine use in clinical practice.