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J Affect Disord. 2012 Feb;136(3):212-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.11.033. Epub 2010 Dec 30.

Age- and gender-specific prevalence of depression in latest-life--systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Health and Public Health, Public Health Research Unit, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.



The objective of the study is to systematically analyze the prevalence of depression in latest life (75+), particularly focusing on age- and gender-specific rates across the latest-life age groups.


Relevant articles were identified by systematically searching the databases MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane Library and Psycinfo and relevant literature from 1999 onwards was reviewed. Studies based on the community-based elderly population aged 75 years and older were included. Quality of studies was assessed. Meta-analysis was performed using random effects model.


24 studies reporting age- and gender-specific prevalence of depression were found. 13 studies had a high to moderate methodical quality. The prevalence of major depression ranged from 4.6% to 9.3%, and that of depressive disorders from 4.5% to 37.4%. Pooled prevalence was 7.2% (95% CI 4.4-10.6%) for major depression and 17.1% (95% CI 9.7-26.1%) for depressive disorders. Potential sources of high heterogeneity of prevalence were study design, sampling strategy, study quality and applied diagnostics of latest life depression.


Despite the wide variation in estimates, it is evident that latest life depression is common. To reduce variability of study results, particularly sampling strategies (inclusion of nursing home residents and severe cognitively impaired individuals) for the old age study populations should be addressed more thoroughly in future research.

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