Objective: Depression is a major contributor to death and disability, but few follow-up studies of depression have been carried out in the primary-care setting. The authors sought to assess whether depression in older patients is associated with increased mortality after a 2-year follow-up interval and to estimate the population-attributable fraction (PAF) of depression on mortality in older primary-care patients.
Methods: Longitudinal cohort analysis was carried out in 20 primary-care practices. Participants were identified though a two-stage, age-stratified (60-74 or 75+) depression screening of randomly sampled patients; enrollment included patients who screened positive and a random sample of screened-negative patients. In all, 1,226 persons were assessed at baseline. Vital status at 2 years was the outcome of interest.
Results: Of 1,226 persons in the sample, 598 were classified as depressed. After 2 years, 64 persons had died. Persons with depression at baseline were more likely to die at the end of the 2-year follow-up interval than were persons without depression, even after accounting for potentially influential covariates such as whether the participant reported a history of myocardial infarction (MI) or diabetes.
Conclusions: Among older, primary-care patients over the course of a 2-year follow-up interval, depression contributed as much to mortality as did MI or diabetes.