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Depression Screening Tool Less Accurate in Older Adults With Cognitive Impairment

November 23, 2020

Although the Geriatric Depression Scale-15 (GDS-15) proved an optimized screening tool for older adults, results should be interpreted more cautiously in those with cognitive impairment, according to a study published online in Clinical Gerontologist. 

“The utility the GDS-15 may be restricted because its diagnostic accuracy is slightly lower among older adults with cognitive impairment,” researchers wrote. 

The finding stems from a systematic review and meta-analysis that included 31 studies and 8897 adults older than 65 years.

The GDS-15 had a pooled sensitivity of 0.80 and a pooled specificity of 0.79, according to the investigation. However, when researchers looked at subgroups, they found the instrument’s pooled sensitivity and specificity were higher in older adults with normal cognitive function compared with older adults with cognitive impairment. 

“These finding suggest that the GDS-15 may be more accurate for screening depression in older adults with normal cognitive function,” researchers wrote. 

Jolynn Tumolo 


Park SH, Kwak MJ. Performance of the Geriatric Depression Scale-15 with Older Adults Aged over 65 Years: An Updated Review 2000-2019 [published online ahead of print, 2020 Nov 7]. Clin Gerontol. 2020;1-14. doi:10.1080/07317115.2020.1839992

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