Objective: Mental disorders of the elderly population in China deserve attention. Social health is significantly associated with depression. This study aimed to evaluate the rate of depressive symptoms and to test the relationships between social health and depressive symptoms among a large sample of community-dwelling elderly adults.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among community-dwelling adults aged 60 years or above in Zhejiang Province, China. Face-to-face interviews were used to complete a structured questionnaire for all participants. We used the Social Health Scale for the Elderly (SHSE) to evaluate social health status and used the short form of the Geriatric Depression Scale to evaluate depressive symptoms. Multivariate logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between social health status and depressive symptoms.
Results: Of the total of 3757 participants included, 1887 (50.23%) were female, and the mean±standard deviation (SD) age was (70.0±8.3) years. The rate of depressive symptoms was 25.92%. The social health score was higher in non-depressed participants than in depressed participants (raw score 50.7 vs. 48.3, P<0.001). Participants with "moderate" or "good" social health had a significantly lower risk of depressive symptoms than those with "poor" social health (odds ratio (OR)=0.55, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.46-0.66 for moderate social health; OR=0.45, 95% CI: 0.35-0.60 for good social health). The association between social health and depressive symptoms was consistent across several subgroups.
Conclusions: Social health is significantly inversely associated with depressive symptoms. The SHSE may serve as an efficient screener to identify those elderly adults with social health deficits, but systematic assessment to guide intervention merits further investigation.
Keywords: Depressive symptom; Social health; Elderly adult.