UnitedHealthcare Community Plan
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UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Delaware

Primary Care Depression Screening 
Depression has an estimated prevalence of 5.4 to 8.9 percent in the U.S. general population1 and affects 5 to 13 percent of patients in primary care settings2. Primary care providers can play an essential role in the detection and treatment of depression by using the program’s Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9, and if positive, determining the severity and most suitable treatment plan for their patients.

What is the PHQ-9? 
The PHQ-9 is a self-administered, nine-question screening tool that measures depression severity based on scoring thresholds. Check out the Resources area below for printable versions of the PHQ-9 in English and other languages, with scoring instructions and other information to help primary care providers recognize and manage their patients’ depression.

Helping a Patient who Screens Positive for Depression 
PCPs can develop a comprehensive treatment plan and determine if treatment in the primary care setting is appropriate, or if a referral to a behavioral health specialist is needed. The care for a patient diagnosed with depression may involve collaboration between primary and behavioral health providers and may consist of referring the patient for psychotherapy, prescribing antidepressants, or a combination of both.

UnitedHealthcare reimburses care providers for administering the PHQ-9 to your patients by submitting a claim for CPT Code 96127 (Brief emotional/behavioral assessment). Please note the PHQ-9 screening must include scoring and documentation to receive reimbursement.



  • PHQ-9 screening tool including scoring instructions and printable copies in many languages: phqscreeners.com
  • PHQ-9 information also at SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions -Integration.samhsa.gov > Clinical Practice > Screening Tools > Depression:  SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions
  • Patient information from Live and Work Well – depression information is under the Be Well link after logging in: liveandworkwell.com/public


    Forms – Downloadable PDFs


  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) Clinical Practice Summary for Primary Care (PDF 44.68 KB)
  • PHQ-9 (English) (PDF 36.64 KB)
  • PHQ-9 (Spanish) (PDF 40.5 KB)
  • PHQ-9 Instruction Manual (PDF 99.95 KB)
  • USPSTF Recommendations ‒ Screening for Depression in Adults (PDF 55.82 KB)

    1. Narrow WE, Rae DS, Robins LN, et al. Revised prevalence estimates of mental disorders in the United States: using a clinical significance criterion to reconcile 2 surveys’ estimates. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002; 59(2):115-123.

    2. Coyne JC, Fechner-Bates S, Schwenk TL. Prevalence, nature, and comorbidity of depressive disorders in primary care. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1994;16(4):267-276.