GPs stuggle to diagnose depression in elderly, study suggests

GPs find it more difficult to diagnose depression accurately in the elderly than in other patients, according to a study.

The researchers said this could be because older patients are either reluctant to volunteer psychological or emotional symptoms or believe that such problems are a normal part of life.

The study also found that GPs were less likely to enquire about symptoms of depression in older people.

The study’s authors wrote: ‘Health professionals working in primary care should have a higher index of suspicion for older people given the higher prevalence of depression in this population’.

The researchers undertook a meta-analysis to compare the accuracy of diagnoses for those over the age of 60 with those under it.

At a depression prevalence rate of 17% (typical of an urban area), the study estimates that 73% of over 60s will be correctly diagnosed, compared with 79% of under 60s.

GPs correctly identified a greater proportion of older depressed individuals (47% compared to 40% of under 60s), but failed to rule out depression in a higher proportion of cases for the elderly (79% vs. 85%).

According to the study’s authors, this means a large proportion of elderly people are being falsely diagnosed with depression. They estimate that in an area with 17% prevalence, 18% of over 60s would be falsely diagnosed as depressed, compared with a 12% false positive rate in the under 60s.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

NHS England pledges £30m for GPs to boost long COVID diagnosis and care

NHS England pledges £30m for GPs to boost long COVID diagnosis and care

NHS England has promised £30m for general practice to improve diagnosis and care...

Second dose COVID jabs for over-40s to be accelerated as lifting restrictions is delayed

Second dose COVID jabs for over-40s to be accelerated as lifting restrictions is delayed

Second doses of COVID-19 vaccines in England will be 'accelerated' for all over-40s...

BMA backs negligence action against GMC and hospital over doctor's suicide

BMA backs negligence action against GMC and hospital over doctor's suicide

The BMA is supporting legal action over alleged negligence and under the Human Rights...

GPs recognised in Queen's birthday honours

GPs recognised in Queen's birthday honours

GPs are among those who have been recognised in the Queen's birthday honours.

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

The healthcare crisis in Myanmar - how UK GPs can help

The healthcare crisis in Myanmar - how UK GPs can help

Dr Jim Brockbank from Myanmar UK GP Health Action provides an update on how the military...