Screening for depression and assessing change in severity of depression. Is the Geriatric Depression Scale (30-.15- and 8- item versions) useful for both purposes in nursing home patients?

M. Smalbrugge, L. Jongenelis, A.M. Pot, J.A. Eefsting, A.T.F. Beekman

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The objectives of this study were to determine the ability of the 30-, 15- and 8-item versions of the GDS for
screening and assessing change in severity of depression in nursing home patients. The GDS and the MADRS
were administered to 350 elderly NH-patients by trained interviewers. The presence of major (MaD) or minor
depression (MinD) was evaluated with the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry. Receiver
Operator Characteristic (ROC) curves of the GDS-versions were performed to measure the ability to screen
on depression. The ability to measure change in severity of depression was measured by differences in mean
GDS-scores and mean MADRS-scores between patients with MaD, MinD and no depression, and expressed in
terms of effect sizes. It was found that in ROC-curves all three GDS-versions performed well. The MADRS
showed larger effect sizes for the differences between MaD, MinD and no depression than the GDS-versions.
The effect sizes of the three GDS versions were comparable. We conclude that all three versions of the GDS can
be used for screening on depression among NH-patients. The MADRS is superior to the GDS for assessment of
(changes in) severity of depression, but the GDS also appears to be an acceptable instrument for this purpose and
is less time-consuming.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)244-248
Number of pages5
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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