Background: To understand the consequences of driving cessation in older adults, the authors evaluated depression in former drivers compared with active drivers.
Methods: Depression (as assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale), driving status, sociodemographic factors, health status, and cognitive function were evaluated for a cohort of 1953 residents of Sonoma County, California, aged 55 years and older, as part of a community-based study of aging and physical performance. The authors re-interviewed 1772 participants who were active drivers at baseline 3 years later.
Results: At baseline, former drivers reported higher levels of depression than did active drivers even after the authors controlled for age, sex, education, health, and marital status. In a longitudinal analysis, drivers who stopped driving during the 3-year interval (i.e., former drivers) reported higher levels of depressive symptoms than did those who remained active drivers, after the authors controlled for changes in health status and cognitive function. Increased depression for former drivers was substantially higher in men than in women.
Conclusions: With increasing age, many older adults reduce and then stop driving. Increased depression may be among the consequences associated with driving reduction or cessation.