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Aging Ment Health. 2012;16(6):780-6. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2012.667780.

The influence of social factors and health on depressive symptoms and worry: a study of older Vietnamese adults.

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  • 1Human Development & Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, USA.



Vietnam has a growing older population, many of whom experienced war and social upheavals in their lives. Prior research has described the health of the older population, but little work has explored mental health. The current study examines the frequency and correlates of two mental health indicators: depressive symptoms and worry.


A representative sample of 600 adults 55 and older stratified by gender (50% women), age (mean=70.33), and rural/urban (50% rural) was recruited in Da Nang, Vietnam and surrounding rural districts. Participants were interviewed in their homes by trained interviewers. Dependent variables were a Vietnamese version of the CES-D and a culturally specific worry scale.


Forty-seven percent of the sample had scores above the cut-off for clinical depression and scores on the worry scale were high. Using multiple linear regressions we found that women, the less educated and individuals with more material hardship had higher depressive symptoms whereas rural residents, women, married, and young-old individuals were more worried. Pain, ADL assistance and emotional support were significant predictors of both depressive symptoms and worry, though the direction of the association for emotional support differed. Illnesses were only a predictor of depressive symptoms.


The high reports of depressive symptoms and worry suggests the need for incorporating mental health screening as part of health programs for older adults in Vietnam. Attention to factors associated with depressive symptoms and worry, such as economic hardship, health problems and lack of emotional support, may contribute to alleviation of symptoms.

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