Background: It is important to understand the complex inter-relationship between depression and physical illness in order to plan and provide quality health care services for older persons and reduce suffering and early mortality. This study assessed the awareness and knowledge of age-care staff of the link between physical morbidity and depression. Methods. One hundred and nineteen staff from both residential (high and low care) and community aged care facilities were surveyed on their awareness and knowledge of the relationship between physical morbidity and symptoms of depression. Predictors of levels of knowledge were assessed using multiple regression analysis. Results: Awareness of the link between physical morbidity and symptoms of depression was generally high. However, while nearly eighty percent of respondents said they had had training in mental health, they were only able to answer an average of six out of ten of the knowledge questions correctly. Predictors of knowledge were: higher age, higher educational status and working in a high care facility. Conclusions: Responses to the survey questions demonstrated gaps in knowledge about the relationship between depression and physical health. The need for regular ongoing training to improve knowledge and awareness of this relationship is indicated. Treatment of physical health issues which is essential in reducing the risk for depression in older persons in aged care environments could be optimized by improved staff training.
- Physical illness