The systematic assessment of depressed elderly primary care patients
Studies of the primary care treatment of depressed elderly patients are constrained by limited time and space and by subject burden. Research assessments must balance these constraints with the need for obtaining clinically meaningful information. Due to the wide-ranging impact of depression, assessments should also focus on suicidality, hopelessness, substance abuse, anxiety, cognitive functioning, medical comorbidity, functional disability, social support, personality, service use and satisfaction with services. This paper describes considerations concerning the assessment selection process for primary care studies, using the PROSPECT (Prevention of Suicide in Primary Care Elderly: Collaborative Trial) study as an example. Strategies are discussed for ensuring that data are complete, valid and reliable.