Depression in older adults: screening and referral

J Geriatr Phys Ther. Jan-Mar 2014;37(1):24-30. doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e31828df26f.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Communication
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration*