Effectiveness of liaison psychiatric nursing in older medical inpatients with depression: A randomised controlled trial

Sarah Cullum, Sue Tucker, Chris Todd, Carol Brayne

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    Objective: to compare liaison psychiatric nursing with usual medical care in the management of older medical inpatients who screen positive for depression. Design: pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Setting: medical wards of UK district general hospital in rural East Anglia. Participants: one hundred and thirty-eight medical inpatients aged 65+ screened positive on the 15-item geriatric depression scale (GDS). One hundred and twenty-one out of 138 screen positives entered the trial (58/121 fulfilled criteria for depressive disorder at baseline). Interventions: (i) A liaison psychiatric nurse assessed participants, formulated a care plan for treatment of their depression, ensured its implementation through liaison with appropriate agencies, and monitored participants' mood and response to treatment for up to 12 weeks. (ii) Usual treatment by hospital and primary care staff. Main outcome measures: ICD-10 depressive disorder, change in GDS-15 score, quality-adjusted life weeks (QALWs) and patient satisfaction rating. Results: eighty-six out of 121 participants completed the 16-week trial. Participants in the intervention group were more satisfied with their care, but no significant differences in depressive disorder, depression rating or QALWs gained were found between groups. However, there was a trend towards improvement in the intervention group and effect sizes were higher in the subgroup with depressive disorder. Conclusions: this study is the first RCT to evaluate liaison psychiatric nursing specifically for depression in older medical inpatients; the findings suggest improvement in mental health and quality of life, but a larger trial is required to provide convincing evidence. © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)436-442
    Number of pages6
    JournalAge and Ageing
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


    • Aged
    • Depression
    • Elderly
    • Inpatients
    • Randomised controlled trials
    • Screening


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