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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.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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