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Depression in Older Adults: Screening and Referral

Vieira, Edgar Ramos PhD; Brown, Ellen EdD; Raue, Patrick PhD

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: January/March 2014 - Volume 37 - Issue 1 - p 24–30
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e31828df26f
Special Interest Papers

Depression is related to disability and affects rehabilitation participation, outcomes, and compliance with treatment. Improving older adult depression detection and referral requires knowledge, skills, supportive organizational policies, and access to mental health experts. This review provides a selected overview of evidence-based approaches for screening of suspected cases of depression in older adults by physical therapists and other non–mental health professionals and discusses procedures to refer suspected cases to primary care providers and/or mental health specialists for evaluation, including resources and a tool to assist in communicating depression-related information to the primary care provider or mental health specialist. We hope that this review will promote the incorporation of evidence-based screening and referral of suspected cases of depression in older adults into routine practice.

1College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Florida International University, Miami.

2Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University, White Plains, New York.

Address correspondence to: Edgar Ramos Vieira, PhD, Department of Physical Therapy, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St, AHC 3, Office 430, Miami, FL 33199 (

No funding was received specifically for this review. Dr Brown receives support from Pfizer, Inc, Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) Program. Dr Brown's research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (K01 MH066942, R03 MH63113).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA