Background: Western societies host increasing number of elderly labour migrants from Turkey and Morocco. The article studied the prevalence of clinically significant depressive symptoms among elderly Turkish and Moroccan migrants compared with native Dutch elderly and if differences in prevalence rates were explained by known risk factors for depression and/or ethnic, migration-related factors.
Methods: 330 Turkish, 299 Moroccan, and 304 Dutch elderly (55-74 years) were interviewed (cross-sectionally) using the Center for Epidemiologic Depression Scale (CES-D). Potential risk factors included sex, income level, marital status, ethnic origin, chronic physical illnesses, limitations in daily functioning, migration and acculturation questions.
Results: The prevalence of self-reported depressive symptoms (CES-D>or=16) was very high in elderly migrants, 33.6% for Moroccan and 61.5% for Turkish elderly. The prevalence of depressive symptoms in the native Dutch sample was similar to earlier studies in the Netherlands and abroad: 14.5%. Among migrants education and income level was very low and they had a high number of physical limitations and chronic medical illnesses. This only explained part of the ethnic differences found. In all three samples, depressive symptoms were associated with sex, chronic physical illness and physical limitations. In multivariate analysis, ethnic origin was uniquely associated with the presence of clinically significant depressive symptoms. Only a small number of remigration and acculturation items were associated with depressive symptoms in bivariate analysis.
Conclusions: The prevalence of clinically significant depressive symptoms among elderly migrants from Turkey and Morocco in the Netherlands is very high. Ethnicity was a strong independent risk factor.