Objective: Previously published studies of prevalence of depression in older people in China showed much variation in the results, while the pooled prevalence is low. In this study we used a standardised method, the Geriatric Mental State (GMS) to investigate the prevalence of depression in older people in China, validate the GMS-AGECAT depression cases and examine the relationship between depression and socio-economic deprivation.
Methods: 1736 subjects aged > or =65 were recruited from Hefei city, China. They were interviewed at home by a survey team from Anhui Medical Universtiy using the GMS and other interviews. Their mental disorders were diagnosed by the Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer Assisted Taxonomy (AGECAT). Chinese psychiatrists re-examined depression cases and their controls.
Results: 39 depressed cases were diagnosed by the GMS-AGECAT. Age-standardised prevalence was 2.2% (95% CI 1.5-2.9), which was about five-times lower than that of older people in Liverpool, UK. Agreement on depression diagnoses between the GMS-AGECAT and local Chinese psychiatrists was 83.6%, with a Kappa of 0.67 (p<0.001). Depression was significantly related to socio-economic deprivation.
Conclusions: This community-based study suggested a low prevalence of depression in older people in urban China. Approved training in the use of the GMS-AGECAT in mainland China should make it possible to carry out a large scale epidemiological study on depression in the Chinese elderly population to investigate its geographic variation and risk factors. The dose-response relation between socio-economic deprivation and depression indicates that strategies for tackling inequality in depression in elderly are urgently needed in China.
Copyright 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.