Household Income Influences Depression Outcomes

In study, low socioeconomic status of older adults associated with poorer treatment response

TUESDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Older people with depression who live in low-income neighborhoods are less likely to respond to treatment and more likely to report suicidal ideation than their more affluent counterparts, according to a study published in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Alex Cohen, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues studied 248 patients aged 59 or older who received antidepressant medications combined with psychotherapy. They used U.S. Census Bureau tract data to determine the participants' socioeconomic status based on their neighborhoods' median annual household income by defining high income as more than $50,000, middle income as $25,000-$50,000 and low income as less than $25,000.

The researchers found that subjects residing in middle-income census tracts were nearly twice as likely to respond to antidepressant treatment than subjects residing in low-income census tracts (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.80). They also found that low-income subjects were about twice as likely as middle-income subjects and about 2.5 times as likely as high-income subjects to report suicidal ideation during treatment (adjusted odds ratios, 0.48 and 0.39, respectively).

"We suggest that future clinical trials routinely gather data on individual income, educational degrees earned, occupation and aspects of the broader social environment such as social capital," the authors conclude.

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