What is the Geriatric Depression Scale?

Introduction

The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) is a 30-item self-report assessment used to identify depression in the elderly.

The scale was first developed in 1982 by J.A. Yesavage and colleagues.

Outline

In the Geriatric Depression Scale, questions are answered “yes” or “no.” A five-category response set is not utilised in order to ensure that the scale is simple enough to be used when testing ill or moderately cognitively impaired individuals, for whom a more complex set of answers may be confusing, or lead to inaccurate recording of responses.

The GDS is commonly used as a routine part of a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment. One point is assigned to each answer and the cumulative score is rated on a scoring grid. The grid sets a range of 0-9 as “normal”, 10-19 as “mildly depressed”, and 20-30 as “severely depressed”.

A diagnosis of clinical depression should not be based on GDS results alone. Although the test has well-established reliability and validity evaluated against other diagnostic criteria, responses should be considered along with results from a comprehensive diagnostic work-up. A short version of the GDS (GDS-SF) containing 15 questions has been developed, and the scale is available in languages other than English. The conducted research found the GDS-SF to be an adequate substitute for the original 30-item scale.

The GDS was validated against Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRS-D) and the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS). It was found to have a 92% sensitivity and an 89% specificity when evaluated against diagnostic criteria.

Scale Questions and Scoring

The scale consists of 30 yes/no questions. Each question is scored as either 0 or 1 points. The following general cutoff may be used to qualify the severity:

  • Normal 0-9.
  • Mild depressives 10-19.
  • Severe depressives 20-30.

Reference

Yesavage, J.A., Brink, T.L., Rose, T.L., et al. (1982) Development and validation of a geriatric depression screening scale: a preliminary report. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 17(1), pp.37-49.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.