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Original Research

Depressive symptoms and physical functioning: are older females and males different?

L Douglas Ried, Tobias Gerhard, Michael J Tueth.


Objectives. Determine whether depressive symptoms impact males’ and females’ self-reported physical functioning differently.
Methods. Subjects were community dwelling older persons with coronary artery disease and hypertension. Subjects responded survey items from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CESD) and the SF-36 physical functioning domain.
Results. 1023 subjects returned both baseline and 1-year surveys. Females reported lower physical functioning, although males reported more baseline medical conditions. Older females, living alone, with less than a high school education, and higher depression symptom scores reported more limitations. Women at high risk of being depressed scored 20.9 points (out of 100) lower on the physical functioning scale; men at high risk scored 32.2 points lower than men not at risk.
Conclusion. Although depression occurs more frequently among older females, it has greater impact on older males. Healthcare practitioners should increase their efforts to detect later-life depression and assess its effect on older persons’ independence.

Key words: older adults, chronic disease, depressive symptoms, depression, health status, hypertension, morbidity, psychiatric rating scales, quality of life, randomized trials

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