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Risk factors of geriatric depression in rural China based on a generalized estimating equation

  • Dongdong Zhao (a1), Caiyun Hu (a2), Jian Chen (a3), Bao Dong (a1), Qiongqiong Ren (a1), Dandan Yu (a1), Yuanyuan Zhao (a1) (a4), Jie Li (a1), Yujun Huang (a1) (a5) and Yehuan Sun (a1) (a6)...



The number of elderly individuals living in China is increasing rapidly. The aim of this study was to examine the potential risk factors of geriatric depression in rural areas.


A repeated cross-sectional study was conducted between January 2015 and October 2016 in rural China. Nine hundred forty-five elderly individuals were included in both investigations. A generalized estimating equation (GEE) was used to examine the relationships between geriatric depression and socio-demographics, the number of chronic diseases, ADL (Activity of Daily Living) disability, cognitive impairment, and anxiety.


Among the participants, the majority was female (61.4%) and illiterate (81.5%) and had a general economic status (63.0%) and more than two kinds of chronic diseases (62.9%). The bivariate analysis indicated that geriatric depression was associated with social support, education level, economic status, ADL disability, anxiety disorders, and cognitive impairment at both survey time points. The GEE results showed that poor economic status (OR = 8.294, p < 0.001), the presence of more than two chronic diseases (OR = 1.681, p = 0.048), ADL disability (OR = 2.184, p < 0.001), cognitive impairment (OR = 1.921, p < 0.001), and anxiety (OR = 5.434, p < 0.001) were risk factors for geriatric depression in rural China; better social support (OR = 0.924, 95% CI = 0.899–0.949, p < 0.001) was found to be a protective factor.


Geriatric depression in rural China was associated with several socio-demographic, physical, and mental factors. Targeted interventions are essential to improve the psychological health of aged individuals in rural China.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Yehuan Sun, Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University, No. 81, Meishan Road, Hefei, Anhui 230032, China. Phone/Fax: +86-551-65167725. Email:


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Dongdong Zhao and Caiyun Hu contributed equally to this work.



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