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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2004 May;19(5):407-13.

A community-based study of depression in older people in Hefei, China--the GMS-AGECAT prevalence, case validation and socio-economic correlates.

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School of Health Administration, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China.



Previously published studies of prevalence of depression in older people in China showed much variation in the results, while the pooled prevalence is low. In this study we used a standardised method, the Geriatric Mental State (GMS) to investigate the prevalence of depression in older people in China, validate the GMS-AGECAT depression cases and examine the relationship between depression and socio-economic deprivation.


1736 subjects aged > or =65 were recruited from Hefei city, China. They were interviewed at home by a survey team from Anhui Medical Universtiy using the GMS and other interviews. Their mental disorders were diagnosed by the Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer Assisted Taxonomy (AGECAT). Chinese psychiatrists re-examined depression cases and their controls.


39 depressed cases were diagnosed by the GMS-AGECAT. Age-standardised prevalence was 2.2% (95% CI 1.5-2.9), which was about five-times lower than that of older people in Liverpool, UK. Agreement on depression diagnoses between the GMS-AGECAT and local Chinese psychiatrists was 83.6%, with a Kappa of 0.67 (p<0.001). Depression was significantly related to socio-economic deprivation.


This community-based study suggested a low prevalence of depression in older people in urban China. Approved training in the use of the GMS-AGECAT in mainland China should make it possible to carry out a large scale epidemiological study on depression in the Chinese elderly population to investigate its geographic variation and risk factors. The dose-response relation between socio-economic deprivation and depression indicates that strategies for tackling inequality in depression in elderly are urgently needed in China.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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