Depression tool's accuracy questioned

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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 recent findings in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The interview-based 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.

The Cornell method queries relatives or caregivers and the patients themselves about mood, behavior and physical symptoms of depression.  

The Australian researchers called the scale a “highly questionable” tool, noting its low diagnostic accuracy. They recommended that facilities consider its complexity, the time needed to collect required information, and staff skills related to depression.

The 92 Australian study participants resided in 14 nursing homes in Brisbane and Sydney. 

Previous studies have found Cornell is better validated with patients suffering from mild to moderate dementia, rather than an end-stage diagnosis.