Indexed on: 27 Jul '10Published on: 27 Jul '10Published in: Aging & mental health
Clinically relevant depressive symptoms are highly prevalent in people who are 75 years of age or older. However, very old people with a vulnerable health status are under-represented in studies focussing on incidence and risk factors, while the risk of developing depressive symptoms is expected to be very high in this group. The incidence rates of clinically relevant depressive symptoms and their predictors were investigated in a vulnerable elderly population.In a community-based cohort, 651 vulnerable elderly (75+) people were identified by means of the COOP-WONCA charts (Dartmouth Coop Functional Health Assessment Charts/World Organisation of Family Doctors). To study the incidence of clinically relevant symptoms of depression and their predictors, 266 people with no symptoms (Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, CES-D score <16 at baseline) were selected and measured again at six and 18 months. The incidence of clinically relevant symptoms of depression was defined as a CES-D score > or =16, in combination with at least a five-point change between measurements. Logistic regression analyses were applied to determine risk indicators.After 18 months, the incidence rate of all clinically relevant symptoms of depression was 48% (95% confidence interval, CI 44.2-51.8). No specific risk factors were identified within this population.Our estimates of the incidence of depressive symptoms were considerably higher than those previously found in elderly populations living in the community. A vulnerable health status is associated with a high risk of depressive symptoms.