A nationwide survey on the prevalence and risk factors of late life depression in South Korea

J Affect Disord. 2012 Apr;138(1-2):34-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.12.038. Epub 2012 Jan 26.


Objective: This study aimed to estimate prevalence rates and risk factors of LLD among a large nationwide sample of Korean elders in South Korea.

Method: Of 8199 randomly sampled Koreans aged 65 years or more, 6018 participated (response rate=73.4%). Using the Korean version of the short form Geriatric Depression Scale (SGDS-K), we classified individual scoring 8 or 9 as having possible depression and those scoring ≥ 10 as having probable depression.

Results: The age-, gender-, education-, and urbanicity-standardized prevalences were 10.1% (95% CI=9.3-10.8) for possible depression, 17.8% (95% CI=16.8-8.7) for probable depression, and 27.8% (95% CI=26.7-29.0) for overall depression. Poverty, living alone, low education, illiteracy, smoking, history of head trauma, and low Mini Mental Status Examination score were associated with greater risk of depression, while mild alcohol use and moderate to heavy exercise were associated with lower risk of depression. However gender difference in the risk of depression was not found.

Conclusion: LLD is decidedly common in South Korea. It was associated with various sociodemographic and clinical factors, some of which are amendable through policy actions. This study was limited by use of the SGDS-K rather than a standardized clinical interview.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors