Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 June 2014
Objective: The relationship between early adverse experience and psychological illness has been studied in younger adults, but not in the elderly. This study investigated early adverse experience in elderly women with a history of severe depression by using a semi-structured interview.
Method: Women admitted with a history of severe depression were identified and interviewed using the Brief Parenting Interview (BPI)(n=14).
Results: The majority of elderly women (71%) with a history of severe depression had suffered significant childhood trauma. Eight (57%) women reported parental loss, six (49%) reported tension or discord in the family home and one woman reported severe child sexual abuse. The majority of the women (87%) did not find the questionnaire distressing and all found it acceptable.
Conclusions: Considering the high prevalence of childhood trauma in this group and the problems treating severe depressive illness in the elderly, this area deserves further study. The BPI is well tolerated in elderly women with a history of depression.