The association between diabetes and depressive symptoms varies by quality of diabetes care across Europe

Eur J Public Health. 2018 Oct 1;28(5):872-878. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cky050.


Background: Depressive symptoms are more common in adults with diabetes and may arise from the physical and psychosocial burden of disease. Better quality of diabetes care may be associated with a reduced disease burden and fewer depressive symptoms.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included 34 420 participants from 19 countries in the European Social Survey Round 7 (2014-2015). Countries were grouped into quartiles based on their quality of diabetes care as measured in the Euro Diabetes Index 2014. Individual-level depressive symptoms were measured using the 8-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale. Negative binomial regression was used to compare the number of depressive symptoms between adults with and without diabetes in each quartile of diabetes care quality. Analyses included adjustment for covariates and survey weights.

Results: In countries with the highest quality of diabetes care, having diabetes was associated with only a 3% relative increase in depressive symptoms (95% CI 1.00-1.05). In countries in the second, third and fourth (lowest) quartiles of diabetes care quality, having diabetes was associated with a 13% (95% CI 1.08-1.17), 13% (1.08-1.19) and 22% (1.14-1.31) relative increase in depressive symptoms, respectively.

Conclusion: The association between diabetes and depressive symptoms appears stronger in European countries with lower quality of diabetes care. Potential pathways for this association include the financial aspects of diabetes care, access to services and differential exposure to the social determinants of heath. Further research is needed to unpack these mechanisms and improve the quality of life of people with diabetes across Europe.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Diabetes Complications / etiology
  • Diabetes Complications / therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires