Depression under-recognised in older adults during acute hospital stays

Research has shown that older people with depression who are in hospital rarely have their depression diagnosed and infrequently have it recognised.

Busy hospital waiting room

Diagnosis of depression is infrequently recorded on older adults’ patient notes, a survey of 27 acute hospitals across England has shown (1 March 2019)[1]

The study examined the records of 766 adults aged over 65 years who had been admitted to acute hospitals in 2017.

The research team found that only 98 patients (12.7%) had a diagnosis of depression in their record at admission or discharge, with 8 of these (1.0%) diagnosed during their hospital stay. In those with either an existing or new diagnosis of depression, 51.0% had this recorded in their discharge notes or letters. 

In 20 of the 27 hospitals, there were no new diagnoses of depression made during hospital stays.

The researchers said that, as other studies have indicated the prevalence of depression in the UK may be up to 35%, depression was not recorded during acute hospital stays as often as expected.

They added that improved recognition and communication between health services was needed to reduce the distress and disability experienced by older adults with depression.

“Health services, patients and researchers need to collaborate and enhance awareness of depression among older adults admitted to general hospitals if treatment of this condition is to improve,” the authors concluded in Clinical Medicine.



[1] Shastri A, Aimola L, Tooke B et al. Recognition and treatment of depression in older adults admitted to acute hospitals in England. Clin Med 2019; 19(2):114–118. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.19-2-114

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, May 2019, Vol 11, No 5;11(5):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206447

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