To study the relationship between the prevalence of depressive symptoms in newly admitted nursing home residents and their previous place of residence.
In 65 nursing homes in the Netherlands trained physicians assessed 562 residents (mean age 78.5, range 28-101, 64.6% female) within 10 days after admission. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the Minimum Data Set (MDS) Depression Rating Scale (DRS), and the MDS items: 'diagnosis of major or minor depression', 'change in depression' and 'indicators of persistent depressed, sad or anxious mood disorder present'. Previous place of residence was categorized as 'own home', 'hospital' or 'sheltered living facility'. Adjustments were performed for demographic and health related factors measured with the MDS.
The prevalence of depressive symptoms (DRS > or = 3) for all 562 residents was 26.9%; it was higher in residents admitted from their own home (34.3%) than in residents admitted from the hospital (19.7%) (p = 0.002). Residents who were admitted from the hospital have an adjusted Odds Ratio for having many depressive symptoms of 0.54 (95% CI 0.31-0.94) compared to residents admitted from their own home. There is, after adjustment, no statistical significant difference between residents admitted from their own home, or residents admitted from a sheltered living facility.
Depressive symptoms are very prevalent in nursing homes. Residents who are admitted from their own home, or from a residential facility, have more depressive symptoms than residents admitted from the hospital. This may reflect different conceptualizations or different adjustment patterns for those groups. For a better understanding of the factors associated with nursing home depression, future studies in detection, prevention and management of depressive symptoms should start prior to or directly after admission, especially for those who have no prior institutional history.