Date of Publication


Project Team

Ellen Long-Middleton, PhD, APRN & Claire Bemis, RN


Purpose. Falls and depressive symptoms are common in the older adult population and are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The relationship between depression and falls is bidirectional. Given that community health nurses are critical health care personnel in assessing risk for depression and falls in the older adult population, the purpose of this project was to implement screening measures for depression and falls in an older adult population.

Methods:Nurses from a community health outreach team implemented depression and fall risk screening assessment with an older adult population 65 years and older in their homes. The Geriatric Depression Scale, Short Form (GDS-15) was used to assess depression and a risk assessment for falls was developed for the purposes of this project by content experts and piloted. Data was collected over a 4-month period, with results provided to the individuals’ primary care providers (PCPs) for referral as indicated. Community health nurses provided screening results to primary care providers (PCPs). Referrals were initiated at the discretion of the PCP.

Results: During the 4-month screening period, thirty depression and fall risk assessments were completed. Seven (23%)of the thirty individuals screened positive for depression and falls; 7 positive screenings for falls; 9 individuals (30%) scored suggestive of depression (GDS-15>5) and 2 individuals (7%) scored indicative of depression (GDS-15 >=10). The screening resulted in 10 referrals to counseling, 7 referrals to physical therapy and 2 referrals to psychiatric nurse practitioners.

Conclusion: Implementation for depression and fall risk screening is feasible by community health nurses. Challenges in understanding whether the referrals were accomplished remain.

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons