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Ethnic Differences in the Dynamics of Depressive Symptoms in Middle-Aged and Older Americans

Publication Abstract

Xu, Xiaohe, Jersey Liang, J.M. Bennett, A.R. Quinones, and Wei-Jun Jean Yeung. 2010. "Ethnic Differences in the Dynamics of Depressive Symptoms in Middle-Aged and Older Americans." Journal of Aging and Health, 22(5): 631-652.

Objective: This study examined differences in the trajectory of depressive symptoms between Hispanic, Black, and White Americans in middle and old age. Method: Data came from a national sample of Americans with up to 6 repeated assessments spanning 11 years. Hierarchical linear models with time-varying covariates were used. Results: Hispanics started with the worst depressive symptomatology, followed by Black Americans, whereas White Americans had the fewest symptoms. These differences, however, diminished over time. More importantly, net of socioeconomic and health differentials, the depressive symptoms trajectory did not differ between Blacks and Whites, whereas Hispanics still started with worse symptoms and had a greater rate of reduction in symptomatology compared to Whites. Discussion: Significant ethnic differences exist in both the intercept and rate of change in depressive symptoms in middle-aged and older Americans. These variations are substantially confounded by socioeconomic and health differentials.

DOI:10.1177/0898264310370851 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC2896431. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: United States.

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