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Dexamethasone Suppression Test and Diagnosis of Melancholia

Mark J. Young, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982;39(10):1218-1219. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1982.04290100074016.
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To the Editor.  —The DST is an important development in the diagnostic approach to depression. After Dr Carroll's original publication (Archives 1981;38:15-22), correspondence from Drs Murphy and Cochran expressed concern about the diagnostic value of the DST and its application to populations with a prevalence differing from Dr Carroll's original patient group. The results of the following study should be of interest.Fifteen psychiatry residents at a univesity teaching program completed the following questionnaire related to the DST: The DST in your facility has been shown to be 70% sensitive and 95% specific. The test will be applied to a large group of psychiatric patients where the prevalence of endogenous depression is 1%. If the test is positive in an individual patient, what is your diganostic confidence that the patient has endogenous depression?

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