Nursing homes should think twice before using a well-known tool for diagnosing depression, researchers say

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A familiar tool for diagnosing depression in dementia patients might not be very effective in the nursing home setting, according to findings recently published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia had a low diagnostic accuracy rate for nursing home residents, investigators in Australia determined. They compared the diagnoses reached through staff use of the CSDD against expert diagnoses reached through other methods.

Overall, the Cornell scale is a “highly questionable” tool, the study authors concluded. They recommended that facilities consider its complexity, the time needed to collect required information, and staff skills and knowledge related to depression.

The 92 study participants resided in nursing homes in Brisbane and Sydney. Corresponding author Yun-Hee Jeon, RN, Ph.D., is affiliated with the Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney. The full article became available online Sept. 5.