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How Do Regulated Nurse Professionals in Alberta Assess Geriatric Depression in Residential Care Facilities?

  • Anna Azulai (a1) and Christine A. Walsh (a2)


Although geriatric depression is a prevalent, serious, and under-recognized mental health condition in residential care facilities, there is a dearth of related research in Canada. This exploratory mixed methods study examines the perspectives and practices of regulated nurse professionals on assessment of geriatric depression in residential care facilities in Alberta. Findings from the quantitative surveys (n = 635) and qualitative interviews (n = 14) suggest that geriatric depression is not systematically assessed in these care settings due to multiple challenges, including confusing assessment protocol, inconsistent use and contested clinical utility of current assessment methods in facilities, limited availability of mental health professionals in facilities, and the varied views of regulated nurse professionals on who is responsible for depression assessment in facilities. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

Bien que la dépression gériatrique soit un problème de santé mentale répandu, grave et sous-évalué dans les établissements de soins pour personnes âgées, peu de recherches ont été réalisées sur ce thème au Canada. Cette étude exploratoire à méthodes mixtes examine les perspectives et les pratiques du personnel infirmier réglementé en matière d’évaluation de la dépression gériatrique dans les établissements de soins en Alberta. Les résultats d’enquêtes quantitatives (n = 635) et d’entrevues qualitatives (n = 14) indiquent que la dépression gériatrique n’est pas systématiquement évaluée dans ces milieux de soins en raison de multiples défis, incluant un protocole d’évaluation manquant de clarté, l’utilisation non uniforme de méthodes d’évaluation dans les établissements et leur utilité clinique contestée, la disponibilité limitée des professionnels en santé mentale dans ces établissements et les opinions divergentes concernant la responsabilité du personnel infirmier professionnel dans l’évaluation de la dépression. Les implications et les orientations futures de la recherche sont discutées.


Corresponding author

La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Dr. Anna Azulai MacEwan University School of Social Work City Centre Campus 10700 104 Avenue NW Edmonton, AB T5J 4S2 (


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We thank Alberta Continuing Care Association (ACCA), Alberta Geriatric Nursing Association (AGNA), the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA), and the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) for their assistance in data collection.



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