The Geriatric Depression Scale: a review of its development and utility

Int Psychogeriatr. Spring 1996;8(1):103-12. doi: 10.1017/s1041610296002505.


This article reviews the significance of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) to practitioners and researchers in clinical gerontology, more than 10 years after the scale was introduced to the scientific community. This report summarizes findings from the most relevant validation studies in which this self-report for assessing depression in elderly people has been tested. Included is discussion of the use of the GDS with specific populations (elderly medical inpatients, nursing home residents, and dementia populations), with description of the scale's psychometric properties and its utility when used with them. This article also provides data on the use of the GDS from more recent studies, including additional information on psychometric properties, influence of source bias, and the international dissemination of the GDS. We conclude that the GDS is a relevant self-report for the assessment of depression in the elderly, given its advantage over other self-reports that are not as easily administered to this age group, its utility in the detection of depression, and its adequate psychometric properties. However, the GDS does not maintain its validity in demented populations because it fails to identify depression in persons with mild to moderate dementia. Finally, some suggestions for future research are made.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bias
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Dementia / classification
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / classification
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Geriatric Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results