Change of depressive symptoms in a French nine-year longitudinal study of aging: Gender differences and relationships between social support, health status and depressive symptoms

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. Jul-Aug 2020;89:104059. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2020.104059. Epub 2020 Apr 22.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to examine the trajectory of depressive symptoms among older French people, to investigate the role of gender in the developmental trajectory of depressive symptoms and to explore whether the linear increase in depressive symptoms might be accentuated or attenuated at time points during which the older adults' scores on social support and health satisfaction scales were higher than their individual averages.

Methods/materials: Data were used from a subsample of older adults living at home who participated in a longitudinal study initiated by researchers from the University of Tours. They were collected at five time points over a 9-year period (T1: 2003; T2: 2005; T3: 2007; T4: 2009; T5: 2011). This study included 707 participants, and multilevel growth curve analysis was used on measures of depressive symptoms, gender differences, social support and health satisfaction.

Results: Results indicated (1) a significant positive linear effect of age on depressive symptoms; (2) that women reported significantly higher scores of depressive symptoms than men at 63 years old (i.e., intercept) and that this gender difference remained constant across age; (3) that the slope of depressive symptoms appeared to increase at time points during which participants had higher levels of social support and to decrease when they had greater health satisfaction.

Conclusion: This study provides pertinent information about the change of depressive symptoms in older people living at home and particularly highlights the interest in studying gender, social support and health satisfaction.

Keywords: Depressive symptoms; Gender; Longitudinal study; Older people; Social support.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Social Support*