Background: Depression in the elderly is a common and disabling condition. The aim of the study was to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of a two-question screen to identify depression and common mental disorders in the elderly.
Method: Residents of a ward in the town of Vellore were identified by a door-to-door survey from which 204 subjects aged over 60 years were selected for the study by systematic random sampling. They were screened using the two-question screen. The Revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R) was employed to confirm the diagnosis.
Results: The prevalence of depression and common mental disorder, using the CIS-R standard, was found to be 31.5%. The two-question screen has a sensitivity of 93.8% and specificity of 48.2%.
Conclusions: The high sensitivity of the two-question screen makes it a useful screening method which can be employed by health workers in the field.