The Mental Health Research Protocol of the Multidimensional Study of the Elderly in the Family Health Strategy in Porto Alegre, Brazil (EMI-SUS)

Eduardo Lopes Nogueira, Paula Fernandes Moretti, Francisco Pascoal Ribeiro Junior, Edgar Chagas Diefenthaeler, Alfredo Cataldo Neto, Paula Engroff Engroff, José Celestino Borges Filho, Fernanda Loureiro, Irenio Gomes


Introduction: The rapid aging process in low and middle-income countries poses a major challenge and has special repercussions for mental health. This is especially true for diseases that impair cognition and emotion regulation such as depression and dementia. In Brazil, caring for the elderly is a public health priority. Aims: To describe the scientific methodology and practical applicability of a mental health study tailored to seniors; to provide data to improve mental health assessment and care; to describe a primary care methodology that is replicable in other regions. Methods: A cross sectional study using stratified randomized sampling. Study participants were residents of Porto Alegre, over 60 years, and enrolled in the Family Health Strategy program. Study prioritized the examination of psychiatric and cognitive characteristics by using multiprofessional indicators of mental health. Data was collected in two phases: screening and specialized diagnosis. Conclusion: The paper provides a methodological model to assist researchers in similar studies. Striking an adequate balance between assistance and research is a major challenge. Protocols that prospect and examine the leading mental health problems in the elderly could close the gap between identification of older adults with early symptoms and those at risk of developing depression and dementia. A stratified approach to screening and diagnosing cognitive and mood and disorders for all levels in public health that uses low cost instruments in a real setting will benefit communities and can provide local empowerment.


Research methodology. Mental health. Elderly. Method. Geriatric psychiatry.

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