Background: There has been little information about depression in Chinese elderly people. In order to investigate whether or not there is an excess of depression among the Chinese elderly, we have performed a meta-analysis of the published epidemiological studies.
Methods: Papers published in the literature from The People's Republic of China included in the Chinese medical databases were obtained. Some additional papers collected from other sources were also included. The fixed/random effects model and Poisson model were employed for data analysis.
Results: There were 10 cross-sectional studies (23 samples divided according to men/women and urban/rural subjects) giving sufficient prevalence data on depression (13 565 subjects) or depressive mood (8476 subjects). The pooled prevalence of depression was 3.86% (95%CI 3.37-4.42%), while that of depressive mood was 14.81% (14.20-15.64%). The risk of depression in the rural communities (5.07%, 3.61-7.13%) was higher than in the urban (2.61%, 2.22-3.08%). The same trends were observed for depressive mood. The patterns of risk factors were similar to those in western countries.
Conclusions: Chinese tradition and culture may be explanatory factors for the low prevalence, provided the methodological issues have not seriously biased the results.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.