Mental Health Nurses Supporting the Routine Assessment of Anxiety of Older People in Primary Care Settings: Insights from an Australian Study

Danny Hills, Sharon Hills, Tracy Robinson, Catherine Hungerford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Anxiety in older age is a worldwide problem and co-associated with other mental health problems, physical health conditions, disability, reduced quality of life and increased healthcare utilisation. Yet the symptoms of anxiety are often unrecognised in older people, challenging early diagnosis and increasing the risk of older people developing more chronic and disabling illness. This article reports on research led by mental health nurses and a primary care nurse that supported primary care practitioners to undertake a routine assessment of anxiety in older people in Australia. The Geriatric Anxiety Inventory-Short Form was incorporated into the annual, in-depth 75 years and older, health assessment that is undertaken in primary care settings and funded by Australia’s Medicare. An initial feasibility study demonstrated good acceptance levels of the routine assessment by the primary care practitioners. These findings suggest fertile ground for the everyday use of the routine assessment in primary care settings in Australia, with transferability internationally in low-, middle- and high-income global communities. Mental health nurses can play a key role in supporting primary care nurses to recognise and respond to anxiety in older people. Illness prevention and health promotion activities are low cost and have the potential to make a difference worldwide to the health of people across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-123
Number of pages6
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

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