The Whitney Observational Depression Index: Development and refinement of an observational tool for measuring depression

June Eileen Burns, University of Pennsylvania


The Whitney Observational Depression Index (WODI) was developed by Dr. Fay Whitney and myself to use the observational powers of both formal caregivers (nurses) and informal caregivers (family members) who care for vulnerable populations (such as stroke survivors), among whom self-report measures of depression are unreliable or impossible to use. The WODI is a 59-item checklist with subscale scores and a total score, related to verbal, affective, physical, and vegetative signs of depression in the patient which can be observed by the caregiver and checked accordingly. Our present data set consisted of 214 nurse-completed WODIs, as well as a longitudinal data set of WODIs completed by the family members caring for their stroke survivor at one month $(N=153),$ three months $(N=174),$ and six months $(N=153)$ following stroke onset. Using these data, I conducted the following analyses: comparisons of family and nurse response patterns (congruence analysis); convergent validity (correlations); internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha); dimensionality and directionality (exploratory factor analysis). Repeated measures ANOVA were also completed, using the family members' longitudinal data set to compare scores and relationships to other measures over time. Exploratory factor analytic models were confirmed using maximum likelihood confirmatory models. Results indicated that Nurse and Family WODI scores were significantly correlated with each other. A significant relationship was shown between Family WODI scores and scores on the BDI and GDS at all three assessments. Different response patterns for the Nurse and Family Members were revealed resulting in poor percent agreement, low kappa values, and discrepancy according to the McNemar test. Exploratory Factor Analysis was completed on all four data sets and revealed six usable factors (alpha $\geq$.70): Hopelessness, Sleep Problems, Slowed Cognitive Processes, Anxiety, Breathing Problems, and Sadness. Other factors also emerged with alpha values $>$.60: Physical/Motivational Problems and Communication Problems. These factors were subjected to the constraints of Confirmatory Factor Analyses, which confirmed the models with goodness of fit index between.84 and.91. Discussion followed where reasons for these differences were presented. Also discussed were recommendations for changes in the WODI and ideas for further research using the instrument.

Subject Area

Psychological tests|Psychotherapy|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Health education

Recommended Citation

Burns, June Eileen, "The Whitney Observational Depression Index: Development and refinement of an observational tool for measuring depression" (1998). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9829867.