Two simple questions could hold the key to helping older people with depression
New research confirms that short questionnaire can be used to accurately screen for depression in older hospital patients
OXFORD, UK, 24 MARCH 2015: New research published in Age & Ageing, the medical journal of the British Geriatics Society, has shown that a simple two-point questionnaire can be used to quickly and reliably screen for depression amongst older people arriving at hospital, providing an easy way to identify patients at greatest risk.
The study looked at 118 hospital patients aged 65 or over, who completed both the short two-question test recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and a more comprehensive diagnostic interview. 100% of patients later diagnosed formally as suffering from depression were identified in the shorter test.
This new research suggests that it could be possible to identify older hospital patients with depression more quickly, easily and cheaply than previously assumed.
Over a quarter of older hospital patients suffer from depression. As well as the suffering associated with the disorder, the presence of depression is associated with a variety of adverse outcomes, including increased mortality and morbidity, reduced compliance with treatment and rehabilitation, prolonged length of stay and increased likelihood of care home placement. Fast and accurate diagnosis can play a crucial role in identifying these vulnerable patients, and help hospitals put measures in place to support them.
Commenting on the findings of the study, the paper’s lead author Dr Collins Esiwe of Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:
“The findings from this research have added to UK evidence, and could be implemented within acute medical settings, where detection rates for depression remains very low. It is recommended that a collaborative approach is taken with Mental Health Liaison services in acute settings, to ensure diagnosis is confirmed and appropriate treatment initiated as soon as possible.”
Adam Gordon, Honorary Secretary of the British Geriatrics Society said:
"Many older people only come into contact with the medical profession during brief hospital visits Diagnosing depression requires, particularly in the acute hospital setting, expertise and time.
This research suggests that we may be able to choose which patients to focus our efforts on, based upon a couple of very brief questions during the initial hospital clerking. This will enable us to deliver more holistic care to the patients who need it most."
The study, entitled “Screening for depression in older adults on an acute medical ward: the validity of NICE guidance in using two questions” appears in the March edition of Age & Ageing and is available online now.
Notes to editors:
For a copy of the full paper, further information about the British Geriatrics Society, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, contact Ed Gillett on / 0207 608 8572 / 07828 124 962
The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) is a professional association of doctors practising geriatric medicine, old age psychiatrists, general practitioners, nurses, therapists, scientists, GPs and others with a particular interest in the medical care of older people and in promoting better health in old age. It has over 2,700 members worldwide and is the only society in the UK offering specialist medical expertise in the wide range of health care needs of older people.
Age and Ageing is an international journal publishing peer reviewed original articles and commissioned reviews on geriatric medicine and gerontology. Its range includes research on ageing and clinical, epidemiological, and psychological aspects of later life. It is published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. Follow Age and Ageing on Twitter @Age_and_Ageing
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