Instruments for Screening for Depression and Dementia in a Long‐Term Care Facility

Stephanie Kafonek, Robert Roca, Steven Kittner, Noel Taylor, Pearl S. German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


The high prevalence of mental disorders such as depression and dementia in institutionalized elderly patients warrants screening for psychiatric diagnosis in patients newly admitted to long‐term care facilities. The diagnostic accuracy of the Mini‐Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) was evaluated against a standardized psychiatric interview. The MMSE was found to be 81% sensitive and 83% specific in screening for dementia using a previously established cutpoint of less than 24/30 points. Adjusting MMSE scores for physical disabilities precluding completion of specific tasks on the MMSE did not significantly change the diagnostic accuracy of the test. The GDS was 47% sensitive and 75% specific in screening for depression using the suggested cutpoint of greater than 13/30 points. The MMSE was significantly correlated with functional status (r = 0.48, P = .0001), but not with the scores on the GDS or the clinical diagnosis of depression. The GDS did not correlate with functional status. In summary, the MMSE is a good screening test for dementia in institutionalized elderly, but the GDS is not sensitive for depression in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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