Assessment and Treatment of Depressed Older Adults in Primary Care


Address correspondence to Patricia A. Areán, Associate Professor, UCSF Department of Psychiatry, 401 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143–0984. E-mail:


The purpose of this paper is to describe and discuss both assessment and psychotherapeutic techniques that can be applied in primary-care medicine for older adults seeking mental health services in these settings. Assessment techniques that are amenable to primary-care settings include the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, Revised; the Geriatric Depression Scale-15; two and nine-symptom Patient Health Questionnaire; the General Health Questionnaire; the Beck Depression Inventory-ll; and the Beck Depression Inventory for Primary Care. Psychotherapeutic interventions that have been created and/or modified for primary-care settings are Problem solving therapy (PST-PC) and interpersonal therapy (IPT-PQ. These detection tools and treatments are discussed in the context of primary-care medicine.