Race-related differences in depression onset and recovery in older persons over time: The Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study

Lisa C. Barry, Roland J. Thorpe, Brenda W.J.H. Penninx, Kristine Yaffe, Dorothy Wakefield, Hilsa N. Ayonayon, Suzanne Satterfield, Anne B. Newman, Eleanor M. Simonsick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate race-related differences in depression onset and recovery in older persons, overall and by sex, and examine race-related differences in mortality according to depression. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: General community in pre-designated zip code areas in Memphis, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Participants: 3,075 persons aged 70-79 years at baseline in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study. Measurements: Depression was assessed at eight time points over 10 years using the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic StudieseDepression scale; patients were categorized as nondepressed (score less than 8) or depressed (score of 8 or higher). We created variables for transitions across each 18-month time interval, namely, from nondepressed or depressed to nondepressed, depressed, or death, and determined the association between race and the average likelihood of these transitions over time. Results: A higher percentage of blacks than whites were depressed at nearly all time points. Adjusting for demographics, common chronic conditions, and body mass index, blacks had a higher likelihood of experiencing depression onset than whites (odds ratio [OR]: 1.22; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03-1.43); among men, blacks were more likely to experience depression onset than whites (OR: 1.44; 95% CI: 1.24-2.89). Blacks also had a higher likelihood of transitioning from nondepressed to death (OR: 1.79; 95% CI: 1.30-2.46). Overall and in sex-stratified analyses, race was not associated with recovery from depression or with the transition from depression to death. Conclusion: Our findings highlight race differences in depression in older persons and encourage further research on the course of depression in older black patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)682-691
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Aging
  • Depression
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Epidemiology
  • Prospective studies
  • Race differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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