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Abstract

Objectives  To review progress made during the past decade in late-life mood disorders and to identify areas of unmet need in health care delivery and research.

Participants  The Consensus Development Panel consisted of experts in late-life mood disorders, geriatrics, primary care, mental health and aging policy research, and advocacy.

Evidence  (1) Literature reviews addressing risk factors, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and delivery of services and (2) opinions and experiences of primary care and mental health care providers, policy analysts, and advocates.

Consensus Process  The Consensus Development Panel listened to presentations and participated in discussions. Workgroups considered the evidence and prepared preliminary statements. Workgroup leaders presented drafts for discussion by the Consensus Development Panel. The final document was reviewed and edited to incorporate input from the entire Consensus Development Panel.

Conclusions  Despite the availability of safe and efficacious treatments, mood disorders remain a significant health care issue for the elderly and are associated with disability, functional decline, diminished quality of life, mortality from comorbid medical conditions or suicide, demands on caregivers, and increased service utilization. Discriminatory coverage and reimbursement policies for mental health care are a challenge for the elderly, especially those with modest incomes, and for clinicians. Minorities are particularly underserved. Access to mental health care services for most elderly individuals is inadequate, and coordination of services is lacking. There is an immediate need for collaboration among patients, families, researchers, clinicians, governmental agencies, and third-party payers to improve diagnosis, treatment, and delivery of services for elderly persons with mood disorders.

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