Screening Older Adults for Depression in Primary Care
Background and Purpose:
Depression in older adults is a significant problem that often goes undetected and untreated in primary care. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening adults for depression in primary care to increase detection, so it can be adequately managed. Despite this recommendation, screening rates in primary care are low. The purpose of this project was to implement a screening intervention and examine the effect of screening on the treatment of depression in older adults.
The screening intervention was implemented as an evidence-based project in a small primary care practice. Consenting adults ≥ 65 years of age were screened with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). Research indicates the PHQ-9 is valid and reliable for older adults. A post-screening chart audit was conducted to collect data and analyze the outcome of screening related to treatment.
A total of 38 participants were screened. Five (13.2%) participants had a positive screening, two received treatment during the follow up period. The number of participants who were treated after a positive screening was significant (p= .040).
Implications for Practice:
Screening can increase detection and treatment of depression and reduce the associated illness burden in the older adult population.