Depression is associated with morbidity, mortality, and decreased quality of life and is a well-established complication among people with diabetes. Little is known about the prevalence and correlates of depressive symptoms among older adults living in rural communities, particularly among ethnic minority groups, who are at increased risk of developing diabetes and complications.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Data were analyzed from the ELDER (Evaluating Long-term Diabetes Self-management Among Elder Rural Adults) diabetes study in which face-to-face interviews were conducted with 696 older (≥65 years of age) African-American, Native American, and white men and women in two rural counties in central North Carolina.
Using a criterion of ≥9 on a modified CES-D (Center for Epidemiologic Study of Depression) scale, 15.8% of the sample had depressive symptoms. In bivariate analyses, depressive symptomatology was more common among women and individuals who were unmarried and had less than a high school education, fewer financial resources, more chronic conditions, more prescription medications, and lower physical functioning. In multivariate analyses, sex, education, living arrangement, BMI, number of prescription medications, number of chronic conditions, and physical functioning remained significant.
These results show that older rural adults with diabetes are at high risk for depressive symptoms, regardless of their ethnic group, and that certain demographic and health characteristics are important factors in this association. These findings add to the limited body of knowledge of comorbid depression in this population. Greater attention should be paid to diagnosing and treating this condition by those who provide care to these populations.