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Health Services Research & Development

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Recent changes in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among VA nursing home residents.

Lemke SP, Schaefer JA. Recent changes in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among VA nursing home residents. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2010 Apr 1; 61(4):356-63.

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OBJECTIVE: This study identified recent changes in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) nursing home residents. METHODS: Psychiatric diagnoses in administrative databases were summarized for nursing home residents in 1998, 2002, and 2006. Census prevalence rates were compared with findings from earlier VA nursing home surveys. Prevalence rates were compared for age groups and birth cohorts of VA nursing home admissions in 1998 (N = 27,734) and 2006 (N = 32,543). RESULTS: Among residents in the census samples, prevalence rates for dementia and schizophrenia fluctuated moderately from 1990 to 2006, depression prevalence increased sharply, alcohol use disorder prevalence declined, and drug use disorder prevalence increased. Among 1998 and 2006 admissions, dementia prevalence increased for most birth cohorts but declined for most age groups (35% to 32% overall). Depression prevalence increased for all age groups and birth cohorts (27% to 37% overall), as did posttraumatic stress disorder prevalence (5% to 12% overall). Serious mental illness prevalence increased among the oldest residents and birth cohorts (19% to 22% overall). Alcohol use disorder prevalence declined for all birth cohorts and most age groups (18% to 16% overall), but drug use disorder prevalence increased substantially for younger age groups (6% to 9% overall). CONCLUSIONS: Examining differences in prevalence between birth cohorts and age groups can clarify trends in nursing home resident characteristics and improve projections of their future needs.

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