Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof Sergio Starkstein (Principal investigator) ,  A/Pr Roger Clarnette Dr Robert Tait Prof David Bruce Prof Jeffrey Cummings

Brief description During the next 3 decades the number of persons older than 85 years will more than double, and the health care need of this burgeoning population are assuming greater importance. Among the most significant but often overlooked conditions in the elderly is depression, which is associated with marked disability, functional decline, risk of hospitalization, diminished quality of life, caregiver burden, increased service utilization, and mortality from comorbid medical conditions or suicide. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 depression will be second only to heart disease as a cause of disability and premature death in established market economies. Depression is missed in approximately half of all elderly persons with mood disorder, and this frequency is certainly higher among individuals with dementia. The strategy to diagnose depression in dementia needs to be revised. Patients' reports are often unreliable due to memory problems and lack of full insight into their mood and behavioural changes. Caregivers may overestimate patients' symptoms of depression, especially when they themselves are depressed and overburdened, and clinicians' diagnoses are sometimes based on biased information and short observation periods. The situation in nursing homes is even worse, and there is a shortage of studies on how to diagnose depression in institutionalised patients with dementia. Using specific instruments to assess mood, behaviour and cognition we will develop valid and reliable criteria to diagnose depression in the different stages of dementia, and for patients living in different settings. This will facilitate the early recognition and adequate treatment of depression in individuals with dementia, it will greatly improve patient's quality of life, and will have a positive impact on caregivers' psychological well-being.

Funding Amount $AUD 361,000.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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