Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Depression in late life is associated with decreased cognitive functioning, increased social and functional impairment, and overall increased mortality. Because of these negative health implications, the accurate assessment of late-life depression is a critical public health issue. Prior research has consistently demonstrated that older adults typically seek and receive mental health services from general medical settings instead of mental health specialty clinics. Unfortunately, many studies have shown that primary care physicians often fail to recognize depression. In addition, older adults are less likely than younger adults to endorse symptoms of sadness or dysphoria. Those with cognitive impairment are also less likely to exhibit depressed affect and it is often difficult to distinguish between depression and cognitive impairment. The present study examined the possible moderating effect of level of cognitive functioning and the endorsement of depressed affect on the relation between overall level of depressive symptoms and the clinician diagnosis of depression in a population-based sample of 344 adults (age ≥ 50). Results indicated that the endorsement of one item that assessed depressed affect on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies- Depression scale (i.e., "I felt depressed") moderated the relation between overall level of depressive symptoms and the clinician diagnosis of late-life depression. However, a separate item that assessed depressed affect on the same scale (i.e., "I felt sad") did not moderate this relation. In addition, level of cognitive functioning did not moderate the relation between overall level of depressive symptoms and the clinician diagnosis of depression in late-life. Implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.
Gregg, Jeffrey J., "Clinician Detection of Depression in Late Life" (2011). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 3314.