Geriatric Depression Scale scores in a representative sample of 14 545 people aged 75 and over in the United Kingdom: Results from the MRC Trial of Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community

Jnos Klmn, Rka Szakcs, Tams Trk, Zsuzsa Rzsa, Pl Barz, Lszl Rudas, J. G. Papp, Zoltn Janka

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Background: The 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) is recommended for screening older people, but there are no large epidemiological studies using this instrument in the UK. We describe the age and sex distribution of GDS-15 scores in the largest ever UK sample of people aged 75 and over. Method: We used cross-sectional data from the MRC Trial of the Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community. The GDS-15 was offered to a representative sample of UK people aged 75 and over. Proportions of people attaining thresholds on the GDS-15 were calculated by age group and sex. Crude Odds ratios (ORs) for the effect of age and sex were calculated and the sex/age adjusted ORs estimated using logistic regression for surveys, at three GDS-15 thresholds. Results: Of 21 241 (71.2%; 95% Confidence intervals (CI): 67.9-74.3) eligible people, 15 126 received the assessment including the GDS-15. Of these, 14 545 (96.2%; 94.7-97.2) completed ≥13 GDS-15 answers and were included in the study. Scores showed a marked right skew, with a median of 2 (interquartile range: 1-3; range: 0-14). 34.6% (95% CI: 32.1-37.3) people scored ≥3, 8.0% (6.9-9.2) scored ≥6 and 3.1% (2.5-3.7) scored ≥8. Women were significantly more likely to score above all three thresholds than men, as were older participants. Conclusions: Depression may be common in later life. The data provide a national picture of the numbers of older people who will score positively for depression in health screens which include the GDS-15, as recommended by the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-382
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002



  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depressive disorder/di (diagnosis)
  • Depressive disorder/ep (epidemiology)
  • Geriatric assessment
  • Human
  • Mass screening
  • Psychiatric status rating scales
  • Sensitivity and specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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