Oral versus written administration of the Geriatric Depression Scale

“Oral versus written administration of the Geriatric Depression Scale” is an article written by B. J. Cannon and T. Thaler and S. Roos in 2002. The article describes the Geriatric Depression Scale as a tool used to determine the level of depression among the elderly people.

The authors conducted a survey in a nursing home with the aim of assessing the applicability of oral administration over the written administration of the Geriatric Depression Scale in a nursing home population. The sample was made up of medically hospitalised elderly people with and without cognitive impairment to ascertain the influence of cognitive impairment on test retest reliability.

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Forty-four female nursing home residents undertook the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) two times, applying oral and written administration plans with a counter balanced presentation. The Mattis Dementia Rating Scale and the Mini Mental Test were applied to all the subjects between the GDS administrations and tested in one session. Test-retest reliability analysis showed a great relationship between oral and written administration for higher cognitive performance subjects, and no correlation for impaired subjects.

The outcome showed that patients with more cognitive functioning grasp significantly more things when the GDS is administered in written form than when administered in verbal administration and, oral over the written administration plans were found to be incomparable in the more performing subjects.

According to Canon et al, (2002), the most suitable measure to administer GDS is through oral administration to the medical patients. The GDS is useful for depression screening especially for patients suffering from dementia, since the validity of responses by self-administration unlikely to improve when reading the GDS orally to participants who cannot comprehend the implication of the questions.

If written format is used, the answer sheet must be printed YES or NO at the end of each question and the subject is supposed to tick the preferred choice. If administered orally, the administrator should repeat the question so as to get a yes or no response. The use of this measure uses individual item analysis shows generally fair consistency in responses. In the low cognition group there is significant correlation between the test scores.

Clearly, with this lack of stability in test scores, the validity of GDS results in cognitively impaired patients must be questioned. The inconsistency in responses seen in the cognitively impaired patients may be reflective of anosognosia, or lack of awareness of one’s weaknesses.

Some researchers have observed that it is better to administer the oral administration since the findings that written administration results in greater item recognition may reflect a tendency for patients to overcome depressive responses when responding verbally. Written administration is preferred so as to bring out the greatest extent of openness in self-report. Test-retest reliability in the higher cognition group is good with the resulting correlation of r= +0.77 constant with other reports. Although the GDS is widely applied in hospitals and as a research method, administration plan is different across fields.

They recommend that informants be consulted about depressive symptoms, rather than relying on patient self-report. The homogeneity of the sample assessed limits the generalizability of these results. The participants are highly educated and a unique group, given their membership in a religious order. Nonetheless, these data represent the . rst empirical assessment of the difference between oral and written GDS administration in a nursing home sample and they provide further argument against the use of the GDS in patients with cognitive impairment (Hogan, 2007).

Reference list

Cannon, B. J., Thaler, T. & Roos, S. (2002). Aging & Mental Health 2002. Oral versus written administration of the Geriatric Depression Scale. Scranton. Pennsylvania. Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Hogan, P. T. (2007). Psychology Testing: A Practical Introduction. Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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