Date of Conferral
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Dr. Mattie Burton
Depression is a chronic condition that has both physical and mental consequences, complicating the elderly’s health status and interfering with daily functioning. Depression is not a normal part of aging and the elderly frequently seek mental health care in outpatient clinical settings where there is need for effective screening and prompt recognition leading to decreased morbidity and mortality. It is critical for psychiatric care settings to provide the most effective screening tools for recognizing depression as quickly as possible. This Doctoral Nursing Project quality improvement (QI) evaluation project resulted from observation of lack of a tool for recognizing depression in a vulnerable population in a mental health clinic. The purpose of this project was to evaluate a QI initiative aimed at promoting recognition of depression in the elderly population (age 55 to 65) by use of the Geriatric Depression Scale in the clinic. The guiding practice-focused statement is: Adoption of the Geriatric Depression Scale will promote recognition and treatment of depression in the elderly population (age 55 to 65) presenting to a clinic. The QI strategies used the Plan-Do-Study-Act model and the diffusion of innovation theory which guided the development, implementation, and process of evaluation throughout the project. Once the screening tool was in place, recognition of need for further diagnostics went from 15% pre-implementation to 29%. Chi square analysis proved this to be significant improvement in recognizing depression despite a small population and a restricted time frame indicated by the N value of 143 = 3.624 being close to the critical value of 3.84. Future studies with expanded time frames and larger populations are recommended. The QI project is expected to create positive social change that can prove beneficial on a larger scale to other mental health clinics and providers who aim to diagnose and treat depression in the elderly population in a timely manner.