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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 171857, 5 pages
Research Article

The Validity of the WHO-5 as an Early Screening for Apathy in an Elderly Population

1Department of Methodology and Behavioral Sciences, University of Barcelona, SGR 822 Generalitat de Catalunya, 08035 Barcelona, Spain
2Department of Education, Aarhus University, Campus Emdrup, 2400 København, NV, Denmark
3University of Copenhagen, Psychiatric Research Unit, Mental Health Centre North Zealand, Dyrehavevej 48, 3400 Hillerød, Denmark

Received 20 February 2012; Revised 8 May 2012; Accepted 14 June 2012

Academic Editor: Iracema Leroi

Copyright © 2012 Ramona Lucas-Carrasco et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aim. The objective of our study has been to evaluate the WHO-5 as a new early screening instrument for apathy in a group of elderly persons. Methods. The WHO-5 was compared to the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15). The GDS contains five items measuring well-being and ten items measuring depression. The internal validity of the WHO-5 (total score being a sufficient statistic) was evaluated with both parametric and nonparametric item response theory models. The external validity of the WHO-5 and the GDS was evaluated by ROC using depression as index of validity. Results. The item response theory analyses confirmed that the total score of the WHO-5 is a sufficient statistic. The ROC analysis shows an adequate sensitivity (61%) and specificity (84%). The GDS15 and its two subscales obtained low sensitivity (25–42%), but high specificity (90–98%). Conclusion. The WHO-5 was found both internally and externally valid when considering decreased positive well-being to be an early indication of apathy reflecting that the wind has begun to be taken out of the “motivation sail.”