Date of Degree


Document Type

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Dianne Lavin


Cindy Sparks


The World Health Organization (2017) estimated that over 300 million people worldwide have depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013), 7 million Americans over 65 years old experience depression annually. The United States Preventive Health Services Task Force recommends the use of a depression screening tool in the adult population. The purpose of this evidence-based quality improvement project was to improve screening for depression in an inpatient geriatric psychiatric unit. The primary objectives included educating nursing staff on depression screening and using the geriatric depression scale (GDS) to assess patient's level of depression at admission and discharge. The anticipated outcome was to implement the GDS and increase its usage from 0% to 70% within a 6-week period. Participants included fifty geriatric patients admitted to an inpatient geriatric psychiatric unit. Nurse manager motivation for change was a primary facilitator to the project. Results showed a 72% completion of the GDS at admission and a 34% increase upon discharge. Only 34% of the participants received both admission and discharge depression screening tools. Limitations included nursing staff lack of motivation, lack of committed senior leadership, and overall resistance to change. Staff buy-in is an important factor when implementing change, affecting the success of any project. Therefore, proper assessment of the culture's climate and incorporating staff members in the change process will lead to better outcomes.

Recommendations include regular staff-training, motivational interviewing, and developing ready-made admission and discharge packets to include depression screening.

Keywords: Depression, geriatric depression scale, geriatric population, depression screening