Objective: To compare the prevalence of specific psychiatric disorders in the homebound elderly to other elders, controlling for demographic, physical health, and socio-economic factors.
Setting: Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) project in New Haven, CT.
Participants: 2,553 non-institutionalized elders representing the total elderly population of the greater New Haven area.
Main measures: Homebound status determined by self-report; psychiatric status according to DSM III by the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS); cognitive status by Mini-Mental Status Examination.
Results: Cognitive impairment (21.8% vs 11.0%, P less than 0.001), depression (2.3% vs 0.7%, P less than 0.01), dysthymia (3.9% vs 1.7%, P less than 0.01), and anxiety disorders (2.2% vs 0.4%, P less than 0.001) were each at least twice as prevalent among elders confined to a bed or chair as among non-homebound elders. Most of this increase was consistent with the poorer physical health status of the homebound; after controlling for health status, only dysthymia (Odds ratio = 2.1, P less than 0.01) was significantly more prevalent among elders confined to a bed or chair.
Conclusions: The higher prevalence of disorders among the homebound support recommendations that psychiatric assessments become routine in primary care examinations of homebound elders and that the availability of preventive and therapeutic psychiatric services to the homebound increase.