First Advisor

Diana White

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors




Aging -- Psychological aspects, Older people -- Care, Older people -- Psychological testing, Nursing home patients, Nursing home care, Depression in old age




The rates of depression are high in nursing homes and often is not treated. A systematic literature review was conducted searching for research studies on depression interventions in nursing homes. Nineteen studies met selection criteria, which included being published in a peer-reviewed journal, being set in a nursing home and utilizing an experimental design. The sample sizes of the studies ranged from 21 participants to as many as 595; the lengths of the studies varied as well from 4 weeks to 24 weeks, with six studies also including follow-ups up to one year post-intervention. Studies showed that interventions involving reminiscing on meaning of life, music and dance therapy, increasing pleasant events in the nursing home, and demonstrating goal-oriented problem-solving strategies significantly improved depressive symptoms in older adults in nursing homes. In many cases, depressive symptoms improved even in control groups due to increased social contact from researchers; depressive symptoms decreased significantly when social contact was highly individualized. Interventions involving cognitive stimulation therapy, exercise therapy and interventions involving reminiscence on personal life did not improve depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were measured using a version of the Geriatric Depression Scale in most of the studies. The remaining studies used the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, or the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale. Review findings suggest that multiple interventions can be used successfully to more adequately care for depressed older adults. Discussion will include integrating pieces of these effective interventions into nursing home.


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