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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 18-23

Identifying psychological distress in elderly seeking health care


1 PhD Scholar, Centre for Public Health, Geriatric Clinic and Services (GCS), National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India
2 Professor of Psychiatry, Centre for Public Health, Geriatric Clinic and Services (GCS), National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India
3 Additional Professor of Epidemiology, Centre for Public Health, Geriatric Clinic and Services (GCS), National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India

Correspondence Address:
Srikala Bharath
Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore - 569 929, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-557X.152849

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Background: Psychological distress in the elderly with various illness conditions often goes unrecognized. Since psychological distress is treatable, it is important to recognize it at the earliest to enhance recovery. This is an interim analysis of screening data of the elderly seeking health care in a hospital in India, with a focus on the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), a screening instrument for psychological distress and a rationale for a higher cutoff score in help seeking elderly. Materials and Methods: A retrospective analysis of screening data of psychological distress using GHQ-12 in the elderly seeking care for neuropsychiatric conditions was carried out. Traditionally, ≥2 is considered positive for distress by GHQ-12. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve was used to define new cutoff points for psychological distress. Results: At ≥2, 2443 (50%) of the elderly screened were recognized to be psychologically distressed. Using an ROC and optimum sensitivity and specificity measures, a cutoff score of ≥4 was observed to detect 30% of the elderly who had diagnosable mental health disorders. Female sex, illiteracy, and multiple co-morbidities were the factors that were associated with higher cutoff scores on GHQ-12 proposed here and psychiatric morbidity thereof. Conclusion: There is greater psychological distress among the elderly seeking health care. Hence, it is important to screen them and identify those at higher risk. Using a higher cutoff score with a standardized instrument like GHQ-12 indicated that it was statistically valid to identify those elderly with higher distress in a busy out-patient setting.


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