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Depressive symptomatology in severe dementia in a European sample: prevalence, associated factors and prescription rate of antidepressants

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2014

Clarissa M. Giebel*
Personal Social Services Research Unit, University of Manchester, Devonshire House, Oxford Road, M13 9PL Manchester, UK
Caroline Sutcliffe
Personal Social Services Research Unit, University of Manchester, Devonshire House, Oxford Road, M13 9PL Manchester, UK
Anna Renom-Guiteras
School of Nursing Science, Faculty of Health, University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany
Seija Arve
Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Maria Soto
Department of Geriatric Medicine, Gerontopole, INSERM 1027, University Hospital de Toulouse, Toulouse, France
Adelaida Zabalegui
Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Nursing, Barcelona, Spain
Jan Hamers
Department of Health Services Research, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands
Kai Saks
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
David Challis
Personal Social Services Research Unit, University of Manchester, Devonshire House, Oxford Road, M13 9PL Manchester, UK
Correspondence should be addressed to: Clarissa M. Giebel, Personal Social Services Research Unit, University of Manchester, Devonshire House, Oxford Road, M13 9PL Manchester, UK. Phone: +44-161-275-5652; Fax: +44-161-275-5790. Email:



Depression is a common comorbid disorder of dementia. This study explores the prevalence of and factors associated with depressive symptomatology, and antidepressant prescription rates in severe dementia across eight European countries.


In total, 414 people with severe dementia completed measures of cognition and quality of life (QoL), whilst carers completed proxy measures of activities of daily living (ADLs), depression, neuropsychiatric symptoms, QoL and comorbidity.


Findings indicated that 30% of the sample had depression, whilst the highest and lowest prevalence of depression was reported in Germany and Finland, respectively. Lower QoL, the presence of pain and more frequent neuropsychiatric symptoms were associated with depressive symptomatology, whilst no significant relationship between impairment of ADLs, comorbidity, and depression emerged. Spain and Estonia had the highest and lowest rates of antidepressant prescribing, respectively, whilst Germany had the highest discrepancy between depressive symptomatology and prescription.


The study highlights variations across countries in the prevalence of depressive symptomatology in severe dementia and prescription of antidepressants. Information about factors associated with depressive symptomatology may help to better identify and manage depression.

Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2014 

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