Prevalence and correlates of depressive symptoms among Hispanic elders in Massachusetts

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2000 Mar;55(2):S108-16. doi: 10.1093/geronb/55.2.s108.


Background: Few studies have addressed depression among Puerto Rican and Dominican elders. This study examined the prevalence of depressive symptomatology and associated situational factors, among a representative sample of Hispanic elders in the state of Massachusetts and a neighborhood comparison group of non-Hispanic whites (NHWs).

Methods: Participants included 715 Hispanic elders (429 Puerto Rican, 128 Dominican, and 149 other Hispanic) in Massachusetts and 238 NHW elders living in the same neighborhoods. Depressive symptomatology was measured with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). The associations between socioeconomic status, household arrangements, acculturation, health problems, and depression score were examined with multiple linear and logistic regression.

Results: Puerto Rican and Dominican elders had significantly greater prevalences of high depression scores when compared with neighborhood NHWs. After controlling for various social, demographic, and health characteristics, the scores of Puerto Ricans remained significantly greater than those of the NHWs, but not "Other Hispanic" groups. Higher CES-D scores were significantly associated with being female, living alone, and having a higher number of health problems, but not with income. Effects of acculturation were only found among Dominican elders.

Conclusions: Puerto Rican elders experience high rates of depressive symptomatology that are associated with, but not fully explained by, high numbers of chronic health conditions. Further investigation is needed to both understand and treat this prevalent problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Aged
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Social Class