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J Gerontol. 1989 Jul;44(4):S149-56.

The association between depressive symptoms and mortality among older participants in the Epidemiologic Catchment Area-Piedmont Health Survey.

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  • 1Department of Community and Family Medicine, Georgetown University Medical School, Washington, D.C.


The association between depression and two-year mortality risk was assessed in 1,606 elderly community participants in the 1982-83 Epidemiologic Catchment Area-Piedmont Health Survey. Two depression measures were formed from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS) depressive symptom items. Neither measure was associated with mortality in univariate or multiple logistic regression analyses. The adjusted relative risk of mortality comparing the lowest to highest levels of a three-level depression variable was 0.9 (95% confidence interval = 0.5-1.4). Similar results were obtained with other versions of the depression variables, with each depressive symptom category, and within sex, chronic disease, widowhood status, and age groups. These results indicate that depression does not increase mortality in elderly adults, but the short follow-up, sample characteristics, and operationalization of depression may have affected this association.

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