Rates of clinical depression diagnosis, functional impairment, and nursing home placement in coexisting dementia and depression

Helen C. Kales, Peijun Chen, Frederic C. Blow, Deborah E. Welsh, Alan M. Mellow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Objective: Depression is commonly found as a coexisting condition in dementia. An earlier retrospective study by the authors found that patients with coexisting dementia and depression (CDD) were high utilizers of inpatient and nursing home care. The current prospective study was designed to investigate specific factors that might contribute to outcomes such as nursing home placement by examining the detection and course of CDD subjects as compared with subjects with either disorder alone. Methods: Eighty-two subjects (N = 29 with CDD, N = 27 with Depression Alone, and N = 26 with Dementia Alone) were recruited and reassessed at 3, 6, and 12 months after baseline assessment. Results: Lower rates of depression detection by treating (non-study) physicians were found in CDD subjects. Only 35% of the CDD group were correctly diagnosed and receiving adequate treatment for their depression. Although the CDD group did not differ in baseline dementia stage or cognitive functioning as compared with the dementia-only group, they had significantly higher levels of functional impairment. CDD subjects used nursing home care at significantly higher rates; nursing home placement correlated significantly with baseline severity of functional impairment and mood measures, but not with other factors, including dementia stage and medical burden. Conclusions: Undetected, untreated, or inadequately treated depression may result in higher rates of nursing home placement in patients with dementia by increasing their functional disability. Aggressive outpatient treatment of depression could improve the course of coexisting dementia and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-449
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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