The MentDis_ICF65+ study is a multicentre study which aims to first develop a reliable diagnostic assessment battery appropriate and valid in the elderly and secondly to collect data on the prevalence, the incidence and on the natural course and prognosis of mental disorders in sufficiently powered representative samples of older people living in the community across different European countries (Germany, Spain, Italy, UK) and associated states (Switzerland, Israel).
This study is designed as a prospective epidemiological study. For estimating the prevalence of mental disorders a cross-sectional study design was deployed. Based on the same cohort the 1-year incidence will be estimated.
Reliable data on the prevalence and incidence of the spectrum of mental disorders in older people are currently lacking for the EU. Despite the availability of some national and a few cross-national cross-sectional studies with quite variable results, the size and burden of mental disorders in the elderly remains unclear. This has been attributed to a number of methodological factors (e.g. lack of appropriate diagnostic instruments).
In addition patterns of incidence and of the natural course and prognosis of mental and physical disorders in people above 65 years are lacking nationally and cross nationally in the EU, with only a few notable exceptions. Furthermore, there are no cross-national studies investigating the interaction of mental disorders and the utilisation of treatment under specific consideration of the severity and the impairment of activities and participation, in terms of ICF-categories, of older people in different European countries.
The objective of the MentDis_ICF65+ study is to (1) develop, respectively to adapt existing instruments and (2) to collect data on the prevalence, the incidence and on the natural course and prognosis of mental disorders, and to do this in sufficiently powered representative samples of older people living in the community across different European countries. This includes assessing health service needs, investigating to what extent existing services are used by older people and which specific barriers to utilisation may exist.
Expected achievements include the development of age and gender sensitive diagnostic assessment instruments especially designed for use with elderly people to measure symptom severity of mental disorders, quality of life, activities and participation and service utilisation in the elderly across different European countries and associated states.
Moreover, it is expected to gain firmer knowledge about the prevalence, incidence and course of mental and physical disorders as well as related symptom severity, service utilisation, activities and participation in the elderly. This knowledge about mental health in the elderly becomes increasingly relevant against the background of demographic change and numerous stress factors associated with aging, e.g. social isolation, reduced functional capacity and somatic comorbidity.
For the first time, it will be possible to deliver national and cross-national results on a broad representative basis using a secured methodology, which will form the foundation for interventions on manifold levels. These levels include the treating doctor or the treating primary care institution, the nursing service, the inpatient health care and rehabilitation.
Interventions will address both general physical health care as well as specialised treatments for people with mental disorders. Results will help to directly improve health care for elderly people and in addition provide starting points for structural changes on the level of health politics.