Introduction: Depression is the second most common chronic disorder seen by primary care physicians. Risk factors associated with depression include medical and psychosocial factors. While in Israel, the rate and risk factors for depression are considered similar to those in other Western countries, population-based data are limited. The present study aims to estimate the prevalence of depression among Jews and Muslim Arabs, and to consider possible associations with demographic, socioeconomic, and health factors.
Methods: The study group (N = 872) was equally divided according to ethnicity, gender, and age group. Depression was measured by the Harvard Department of Psychiatry National Depression Screening Day Scale (HANDS).
Results: The rate of depression scores in the likely/very likely range was 2.5 times higher among Arabs than among Jews (24.9 vs. 10.6%; P < 0.001). Women were more likely to express symptoms of depressive episode than were men (22.0 vs. 13.6%; P = 0.001), and the depression rate increased with age, from 11.0% in the youngest group (26-35) to 25.0% in the oldest (P = 0.001). The rate of increase in depression by age was different for the genders, rising more steeply for women than for men. However, the age-gender differential was not identical for the two ethnic groups. The differences in depression prevalence between Arabs and Jews were maintained after controlling for confounding variables, except that when controlling for education, the difference between the ethnic groups was no longer significant. After adjusting for all variables in the analysis, no significant association remained between ethnicity and depression (OR = 0.80; 95% CI = 0.45-1.40).