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The consequences of co-occurring persistent loneliness and late life depression are yet unknown. The aim of this study was to get a deeper insight into the mental health consequences of loneliness in older persons with depressive symptoms and their perspectives of emotional distress by using a mixed-methods study design.
Two hundred and forty nine community-dwelling older persons with depressive symptoms according to the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (≥6) were included. A validated cut-off score on the Loneliness Scale was used to distinguish lonely elders from elders who were not lonely. Quantitative and qualitative data were used to examine differences in mental health and perspectives on emotional distress between lonely and not lonely older persons with depressive symptoms.
Loneliness was highly prevalent among older persons with depressive symptoms (87.8%). Lonely people suffered from worse mental ill-health (e.g., more severe depressive symptoms, more often a depressive disorder and a lower quality of life) compared to not lonely individuals. Depressive symptoms were regarded as a logical consequence of loneliness. Lonely people perceived little command over their situation: causes of loneliness were attributed externally to perceived deficits in their social networks and they mainly expressed the need to be listened to.
Our findings underline the importance of paying considerable attention to (severe) loneliness in older adults with depressive symptoms given its high prevalence and serious mental health consequences. Future studies should look into whether addressing loneliness when discussing depressive symptoms in clinical practice may provide an opportunity to better adjust to older persons’ depression perceptions and might therefore improve care utilization.
Background: Depression in informal caregivers of persons with dementia is a major, costly and growing problem. However, it is not yet clear which caregivers are at increased risk of developing depression. With this knowledge preventive strategies could focus on these groups to maximize health gain and minimize effort.
Methods: The onset of clinically relevant depression was measured with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression Scale in 725 caregivers who were not depressed at baseline and who were providing care for a relative with dementia. Caregivers were followed over 18 months. The indices calculated to identify the most important risk indicators were: odds ratio, attributable fraction, exposure rate and number needing to be treated.
Results: The following significant indicators of depression onset were identified: increased initial depressive symptoms, poor self-rated health status and white or Hispanic race/ethnicity. The incidence of depression would decrease by 72.3% (attributive fraction) if these risk indicators together are targeted by a completely effective intervention. Race/ethnicity was not a significant predictor if caregivers of patients who died or were institutionalized were left out of the analyses.
Conclusion: Detection of only a few characteristics makes it possible to identify high-risk groups in an efficient way. Focusing on these easy-to-assess characteristics might contribute to a cost-effective prevention of depression in caregivers.
Background: Elderly people living in residential homes are at high risk for developing major depressive and anxiety disorders, and therefore deserve attention in terms of preventive interventions. We evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of a guided self-help intervention for the prevention of depression and anxiety in these residents.
Methods: We conducted a pragmatic randomized controlled trial in two parallel groups comparing the intervention with usual care in 14 residential homes in and surrounding the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. A total of 129 residents with a score of 8 or more on the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) screening instrument, who did not meet the full diagnostic criteria for disorders, and were not suffering from cognitive impairment were recruited between April 2007 and December 2008. Participants were randomized to a guided self-help intervention (n = 67) or to usual care (n = 62). The main outcome measures were improvement in the level of symptoms of depression and anxiety. The secondary outcome was improvement in participation in organized activities in the residential homes. The study is registered in de Dutch Cochrane Centre, under number ISRCTN27540731.
Results: Only 21% of the participants (mean age 84.0 years (SD 6.7), 72.1% suffering from two or more chronic illnesses) completed the intervention. Although we found some large positive effect sizes on the CES-D, none of these effects was statistically significant.
Conclusion: Although guided self-help may be promising in the prevention of depression and anxiety, it proved to be difficult to apply in this very old and vulnerable group of people living in residential homes.
Objectives: Major depression is common in elderly patients. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a potentially effective treatment for depressed elderly patients. The objective of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of IPT delivered by mental health workers in primary care practices, for depressed patients 55 years of age and older identified by screening, in comparison with care as usual (CAU).
Methods: We conducted a full economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trial comparing IPT with CAU. Outcome measures were depressive symptoms, presence of major depression, and quality of life. Resource use was measured from a societal perspective over a 12-month period by cost diaries. Multiple imputation and bootstrapping were used to analyze the data.
Results: At 6 and 12 months, the differences in clinical outcomes between IPT and CAU were small and nonsignificant. Total costs at 12 months were €5,753 in the IPT group and €4,984 in the CAU group (mean difference, €769; 95 percent confidence interval, −2,459 – 3,433). Cost-effectiveness planes indicated that there was much uncertainty around the cost-effectiveness ratios.
Conclusions: Based on these results, provision of IPT in primary care to elderly depressed patients was not cost-effective in comparison to CAU. Future research should focus on improvement of patient selection and treatments that have more robust effects in the acute and maintenance phase of treatment.
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