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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2004 Dec;19(12):1155-67.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety (MHI) following acute medical/surgical hospitalization and post-discharge psychiatric diagnoses (DSM) in 839 geriatric US veterans.

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  • 1UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, Los Angeles, California, USA.



We addressed the relatively unexplored use of screening scores measuring symptoms of depression and/or anxiety to aid in identifying patients at increased risk for post-discharge DSM-IV Axis I diagnoses. We were unable to find such studies in the literature.


Elderly veterans without recent psychiatric diagnoses were screened for depression and anxiety symptoms upon admission to acute medical/surgical units using the Mental Health Inventory (MHI). Following discharge, those who had exceeded cut-off scores and had been randomized to UPBEAT Care (Unified Psychogeriatric Biopsychosocial Evaluation and Treatment, a clinical demonstration project) were evaluated for DSM diagnoses. We report on 839 patients, mostly male (96.3%; mean age 69.6 +/- 6.7 years), comparing three groups, i.e. those meeting screening criteria for symptoms of (i) depression only; (ii) anxiety only; and (iii) both depression and anxiety.


Despite absence of recent psychiatric history, 58.6% of the 839 patients received a DSM diagnosis post-discharge (21.8% adjustment; 15.4% anxiety; 7.5% mood; and 14.0% other disorders). Patients meeting screening criteria for both depression and anxiety symptoms received a DSM diagnosis more frequently than those meeting criteria for anxiety symptoms only (61.9% vs 49.0%, p = 0.017), but did not differ significantly from those meeting criteria for depressive symptoms only (61.9% vs 56.8%, p = 0.174). Although exceeding the MHI screening cut-off scores for depression, anxiety, or both helped to identify patients with a post-discharge DSM diagnosis, the actual MHI screening scores failed to do so.


Screening hospitalized medical/surgical patients for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and particularly for the combination thereof, may help identify those with increased risk of subsequent DSM diagnoses, including adjustment disorder.

Copyright (c) 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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