Depression and physical illness among elderly general medical clinic patients

W. A. Kukull, T. D. Koepsell, T. S. Inui, S. Borson, J. Okimoto, M. A. Raskind, J. L. Gale

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90 Scopus citations


In this study we conducted a resurvey at 33 months of elderly general medical clinic outpatients previously classified as depressed or not using the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale. Resurvey results and review of medical records permitted characterization of the point prevalences of depression at the time of the initial and follow-up surveys, and identification of physical illness factors associated with depression. The point prevalences of depression were approximately equal (20%), although only about 10% were depressed at both occasions. Among the initially nondepressed, the number of new physical diagnoses during follow-up was the best predictor of depression at retest. Other factors associated with depression at one or both occasions were: alcohol abuse, obstructive pulmonary disease, and a relatively greater number of medical diagnoses. Thus, among elderly outpatients, depression appears common with roughly equal rates of remission and incidence; also, new medical illness may precipitate depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1986

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported in part by the Northwest HSR&D Field Program. Seattle VA Medical Center, Seattle, WA. U.S.A.


  • Depression
  • Elderly
  • Epidemiology
  • Physical illness


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