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Int J Psychiatry Med. 2008;38(4):453-67.

The prevalence and correlates of depressive symptoms among Arab women in a primary health care setting.

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Dept of Family and Community Medicine and Behavioral Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.



Depression is one of most common mental illnesses in the world, with a high prevalence in primary health care settings. Some research has been conducted in the Arab region, but this research has been limited. This study investigated the prevalence of depression in a primary health care setting in the United Arab Emirates as well as possible socio-demographic and stressful life event correlates of depression.


Arabic versions of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a Stressful Life Events Inventory, and socio-demographic form were used for the study. Data were collected from 224 Arab women, aged 18 and above, in the primary health care centers of Sharjah, using a convenience sampling method.


Approximately 33% of women were found to be either moderately (14.7%) or severely (18%) depressed. The following socio-demographic variables were found to be correlated with scores on the BDI (p < .05): marital status (being single, widowed or divorced), working status (working full- or part-time), and family income (lower family income). The number of stressful life events that a woman had experienced in the past year was also correlated with depression.


Depressive symptoms are common in women attending primary health care centers in the Emirate of Sharjah. Stressful life events, in particular, are related to the level of depressive symptoms experienced by these women. It will be important to consider the social, psychological, and economic variables that impact emotional health in the region. This research is considered to be an initial step in developing prevention and intervention programs to address the mental health needs of Arab women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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