A comparison of GP and GDS diagnosis of depression in late life among multimorbid patients - results of the MultiCare study

J Affect Disord. 2014 Oct;168:276-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.06.020. Epub 2014 Jun 18.


Background: The objective of the study was to compare General Practitioners׳ (GPs) diagnosis of depression and depression diagnosis according to Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and to identify potential factors associated with both depression diagnosis methods.

Methods: The data were derived from the baseline wave of the German MultiCare1 study, which is a multicentre, prospective, observational cohort study of 3177 multimorbid patients aged 65+ randomly selected from 158 GP practices. Data were collected in GP interviews and comprehensive patient interviews. Depressive symptoms were assessed with a short version of the Geriatric Depression Scale (15 items, cut-off 6). Cohen׳s kappa was used to assess agreement of GP and GDS diagnoses. To identify factors that might have influenced GP and GDS diagnoses of depression, binary logistic regression analyses were performed.

Results: Depressive symptoms according to GDS were diagnosed in 12.6% of the multimorbid subjects, while 17.8% of the patients received a depression diagnosis by their GP. The agreement between general practitioners and GDS diagnosis was poor. To summarize we find that GPs and the GDS have different perspectives on depression. To GPs somatic and psychological comorbid conditions carry weight when diagnosing depression, while cognitive impairment in form of low verbal fluency, pain and comorbid somatic conditions are relevant for a depression diagnosis by GDS.

Conclusions: Each depression diagnosing method is influenced by different variables and therefore, has advantages and limitations. Possibly, the application of both, GP and GDS diagnoses of depression, could provide valuable support in combining the different perspectives of depression and contribute to a comprehensive view on multimorbid elderly in primary care setting.

Keywords: Diagnosis of depression; General practitioner; Late life; Multimorbidity; Prevalence; Primary care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • General Practice*
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Primary Health Care
  • Prospective Studies