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SSM Popul Health. 2019 Jun 17;8:100434. doi: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2019.100434. eCollection 2019 Aug.

The role of adult socioeconomic and relational reserves regarding the effect of childhood misfortune on late-life depressive symptoms.

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Swiss NCCR "LIVES - Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives", University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Department of General Internal Medicine, Rehabilitation and Geriatrics, University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Gerontology and Vulnerability, University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Unit of Population Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, Primary Care and Emergency Medicine, Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland.
INSERM, UMR1027, Toulouse, France.
Université Toulouse III Paul-Sabatier, UMR1027, Toulouse, France.
Department of Movement Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.



Childhood misfortune is associated with late-life depressive symptoms, but it remains an open question whether adult socioeconomic and relational reserves could reduce the association between childhood misfortune and late-life depressive symptoms.


Using the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), data from 8'357 individuals (35'260 observations) aged 50-96 years and living in 11 European countries were used to examine associations between three indicators of childhood misfortune (adverse childhood events, poor childhood health, and childhood socioeconomic circumstances) and late-life depressive symptoms. Subsequently, we tested whether these associations were mediated by education, occupational position, the ability to make ends meet, and potential or perceived relational reserves; that is family members or significant others who can provide help in case of need, respectively. Analyses were stratified by gender and adjusted for confounding and control variables.


Adult socioeconomic reserves partly mediated the associations between adverse childhood events, poor childhood health and late-life depressive symptoms. The associations with the third indicator of childhood misfortune (childhood socioeconomic circumstances) were fully mediated by adult socioeconomic reserves in men, and partly mediated in women. None of the associations were mediated by relational reserves. However, perceived relational reserves were associated with fewer late-life depressive symptoms.


Childhood socioeconomic disadvantage can be mitigated more easily over the life course than adverse childhood events and poor childhood health, especially in men. Perceived relational reserves work primarily as a protective force against late-life depressive symptoms and may be particularly important in the context of the cumulative effect of childhood adversities.


Childhood misfortune; Europe; Late-life depression; Life course; Reserves

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