Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS)

Construct: Depressive symptoms

DepressionDescription of Measure: The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) is a self-report measure of depression in older adults. Users respond in a “Yes/No” format. The GDS was originally developed as a 30-item instrument. Since this version proved both time-consuming and difficult for some patients to complete, a 15-item version was developed. The shortened form is comprised of 15 items chosen from the Geriatric Depression Scale-Long Form (GDS-L). These 15 items were chosen because of their high correlation with depressive symptoms in previous validation studies (Sheikh & Yesavage, 1986). Of the 15 items, 10 indicate the presence of depression when answered positively while the other 5 are indicative of depression when answered negatively. This form can be completed in approximately 5 to 7 minutes, making it ideal for people who are easily fatigued or are limited in their ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.

A validation study was conducted by Sheikh and Yesavage (1986) in which the GDS-S was compared to the GDS-L in differentiating depressed from non-depressed patients. Both measures were successful in classifying the 2 populations accurately with a reported correlation of r = .84, p < .001.

Briefer 10-, 4-, and 1-item versions also have been developed.


D’Ath, P, Katona, P, Mullan, E, Evans, S, & Katona, C (1994). Screening, detection and management of depression in elderly primary care attenders, 1: The acceptability and performance of the 15-item GDS (GDS-15) and development of a shorter version. Family Practice, 11, 260-266.

Parmelee, P., Lawton, M., & Katz, I. (1989). Psychometric properties of the Geriatric Depression Scale among the institutionalized aged. Psychological Assessment, 1(4), 331-338.

Sheikh, J. I., & Yesavage, J. A. (1986). Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS): Recent evidence and development of a shorter version. Clinical Gerontologist, 5, 165-173.

Marwijk, H. W, Wallace, P., de Bock, G. H., Hermans, J., Kaptein, A. A., & Mulder, J. D. (1995). Evaluation of the feasibility, reliability and diagnostic value of shortened versions of the Geriatric Depression Scale. British Journal of General Practice, 45, 195-199.

Yesavage, J. A., Brink, T. L., Rose, T. L., Lum, O., Huang, V., Adey, M., & Leirer, V. O. (1983). Development and validation of a geriatric depression screening scale: A preliminary report. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 17, 37-49.