Self-rated depressive symptoms in medical inpatients: age and racial differences.
One thousand and eleven men under age forty (n = 161) or over age sixty-four (n = 850) admitted to medical and neurological services of an acute care hospital were screened for depressive symptoms as part of the Durham VA Mental Health Survey. Thirty-three percent of younger and 22 percent of older men scored 11 or higher on the Geriatric Depression Scale. Self-rated symptoms were most prevalent among younger whites (40%) and least common in older blacks (19%). Other exogenous factors such as being retired or unemployment and prior psychiatric history were also related to depressive symptoms, as were poor functional status, impaired cognitive status, and respiratory illness. Coping resources associated with fewer symptoms were social support and moderate alcohol use. In a subgroup of 443 patients, self-rated symptoms were compared with observer-rated symptoms. Agreement was highest among young Whites and lowest in older Blacks. Other correlates also varied depending on whether self-rated or observer-rated symptoms were considered. We conclude that self-rated symptoms are common among medical inpatients, are linked with and confounded by certain health and sociodemographic factors, and may be relatively insensitive as a measure of depression in elderly blacks.
Koenig, HG; Meador, KG; Goli, V; Shelp, F; Cohen, HJ; Blazer, DG
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