Measuring depression in Canada's elderly Chinese population: Use of a community screening instrument

Wing Leung Lai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the reliability and validity of a 15-item Chinese Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) to measure depression in Canada's elderly Chinese population. Method: A random sample of 96 elderly Chinese in a Canadian city was surveyed by telephone. The measure of depression used was the 15-item Chinese version of the GDS. In addition, the physical and mental health of the respondents was assessed by a Chinese version of the SF-12, questions on self-perceived general health, and questions on self-reported illnesses and health concerns. Results: The prevalence rate of depression in the elderly Chinese who participated in this study is approximately 20%, which is much lower than that of elderly Chinese in the United States (US). Cronbach's alpha and split-half reliability coefficients were 0.88 and 0.89 respectively. GDS scores are significantly correlated with the mental health component (r = -0.74) of the SF-12, indicating a strong convergent validity. GDS scores are also correlated with the physical health component of the SF- 12 (r = -0.41), self-perceived general health (r = -0.26), and illnesses (r = 0.52), demonstrating concurrent validity. Conclusions: The 15-item Chinese GDS has good internal consistency and both convergent and concurrent validity. It can help to identify depression among the elderly Chinese, allowing early identification and prevention of this problem. Further research is required to support its use in clinical settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-284
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese
  • Depression
  • Elderly
  • Geriatric Depression Scale
  • Measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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