The Geriatric Depression Scale: A Review of Its Development and Utility

Department of Biological and Health Psychology, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain.
International Psychogeriatrics (Impact Factor: 1.93). 02/1996; 8(1):103-12. DOI: 10.1017/S1041610296002505
Source: PubMed


This article reviews the significance of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) to practitioners and researchers in clinical gerontology, more than 10 years after the scale was introduced to the scientific community. This report summarizes findings from the most relevant validation studies in which this self-report for assessing depression in elderly people has been tested. Included is discussion of the use of the GDS with specific populations (elderly medical inpatients, nursing home residents, and dementia populations), with description of the scale's psychometric properties and its utility when used with them. This article also provides data on the use of the GDS from more recent studies, including additional information on psychometric properties, influence of source bias, and the international dissemination of the GDS. We conclude that the GDS is a relevant self-report for the assessment of depression in the elderly, given its advantage over other self-reports that are not as easily administered to this age group, its utility in the detection of depression, and its adequate psychometric properties. However, the GDS does not maintain its validity in demented populations because it fails to identify depression in persons with mild to moderate dementia. Finally, some suggestions for future research are made.

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Available from: María Izal,
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    • "Differential item functioning in depressive symptoms was examined across the GDS, the CES-D, and the MADRS. The GDS is a 15-item scale, with dichotomous response options, that is a well-validated and highly reliable scale among the older adult population (for review, see Montorio and Izal, 1996). It was administered in the Duke ADRC and UC Davis ADC. "
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study is to determine whether differential item functioning (DIF) due to cognitive status impacted three depressive symptoms measures commonly used with older adults. Differential item functioning in depressive symptoms was assessed among participants (N = 3558) taking part in four longitudinal studies of cognitive aging, using the Geriatric Depression Scale, the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale, and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Participants were grouped by cognitive status using a general cognitive performance score derived from each study's neuropsychological battery and linked to a national average using a population-based survey representative of the US population. The Clinical Dementia Rating score was used as an alternate grouping variable in three of the studies. Although statistically significant DIF based on cognitive status was found for some depressive symptom items (e.g., items related to memory complaints, appetite loss, lack of energy, and mood), the effect of item bias on the total score for each scale was negligible. The depressive symptoms scales in these four studies measured depression in the same way, regardless of cognitive status. This may reduce concerns about using these depression measures in cognitive aging research, as relationships between depression and cognitive decline are unlikely to have been due to item bias, at least in the ways that were measured in the datasets we considered. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 12/2014; 30(9). DOI:10.1002/gps.4234 · 2.87 Impact Factor
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    • "It has previously been used successfully in other ADS evaluation studies (Burns, McCarten, Adler, Bauer, & Kuskowski, 2004; Cherry & Simmons-D'Gerolamo, 2005; Malone, Hill, & Smith, 2002; Schmitt, Sands, Weiss, Dowling, & Covinsky, 2010). Due to its self-reporting nature, however, it has demonstrated difficulties in detecting depression in individuals with dementia (Montorio & Izal, 1996). The Friendship Scale and the Life Space Questionnaire (LSQ) were used to measure social isolation. "
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    ABSTRACT: The MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre runs a Day Centre Programme whose objectives are to maintain or improve the seniors’ biological, psychological, and social health while delaying or avoiding institutionalization. Activities include walking groups, language courses, and memory games, supervised by an interdisciplinary team. Services include rehabilitation follow-up and referrals to community resources. The present study reports on the impact of the Day Centre on the holistic health of older adults with visual impairment. Between September 2011 and October 2012, 30 newly referred clients (age = 71–98 years, M = 85, visual acuity [VA] 20/50 to no-light-perception [NLP], M = 20/126) were evaluated at intake, and after 6 and 12 months, including the Visual Function Questionnaire-14, Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly, Geriatric Depression Scale, Friendship Scale, Timed Up and Go Test, and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). In all, 19 participants completed the 1-year follow-up and continued to live independently in the community 12 months after entering the Day Centre. Only one person was transferred into long-term care. Comorbid conditions included high blood pressure, asthma, cardiac problems, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Participants reported statistically unchanged scores on all the measures, except for improved MoCA scores, p < .05. Considering the vulnerability of this population, the data indicate that the Day Centre contributes to prevent decline in its clients’ general well-being. The increase in cognitive scores is possibly linked to practice effects and reduced test anxiety. Participation in adapted Day Centre activities, as an integrated part of rehabilitation services, may support independent living in older adults with vision loss.
    British Journal of Visual Impairment 08/2014; 32(3):249– 262. DOI:10.1177/0264619614540162
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    • "This scale is one of the most widely used scales for assessing depressed mood among elderly [26]. It is composed of 30 self-rating items with a yes/no response option. "
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    ABSTRACT: Depression is common among elderly in developed countries and it is more pronounced in institutional settings. In Pakistan there is a lack of empirical data on depression among this segment of the population particularly with reference to their living arrangements. The objectives of the present study are to report the magnitude of depression among elderly having two different residential arrangements and to examine the association of depression and its established demographic factors. Data were collected from 141 respondents. 108 were community residents (m = 57 and f = 51) and 33 were living in the care homes (m = 29 and f = 4). Prevalence of depression as assessed by Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) among community and Care Homes (CHs) participants was 31.5 percent and 60.6 percent, respectively. On Centre of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), 42.6 percent of the community and 69.7 percent of the CH respondents were deemed depressed. Before adjusting for any other potential risk factors the odds of being depressed was significantly increased if the study participants were living in CH, relatively older, female, not currently married, had low educational level, had lower Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores, and reported lower perceived emotional and practical support. In a partially adjusted logistic regression model an increased risk of depression was not confounded by any of the above mentioned risk factors. However, the risk associated was not significant when it was adjusted for social support. The findings of the current study are consistent with previous research and throws light on the dire need for interventions to address mental health needs of Pakistani elderly. Implications for improving the mental health status of elderly are also presented.
    BMC Research Notes 06/2014; 7(1):409. DOI:10.1186/1756-0500-7-409
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