Major Depression and Subthreshold Depression among Older Adults Receiving Home Care

Xiaoling Xiang, Amanda Leggett, Joseph A. Himle, Helen C. Kales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: This study aims to estimate the prevalence and correlates of major and subthreshold depression and the extent of treatment utilization in older adults receiving home care. Methods: The study sample included 811 community-dwelling adults aged 60 and over who received paid home care during the 2008–2014 waves of the Health and Retirement Study. Depression was assessed using short forms of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Logistic regression was used to examine correlates of depression type and treatment utilization. Results: One in two older home care recipients suffered from probable depression; 13.4% of the sample suffered from major depression and an additional 38.7% met study criteria for subthreshold depression. The majority (72.7%) of participants with major depression and almost half (44.5%) of participants with subthreshold depression reported taking medication for anxiety or depression. One-third (33.2%) of older home care recipients with major depression and 14.2% of those with subthreshold depression reported receiving formal psychiatric or psychological treatment. Males as compared with females and persons with pain problems as compared with no pain complaints had a higher risk of subthreshold and major depression. The receipt of medication or psychiatric treatment declined with age. African Americans were less likely to receive medication for anxiety or depression compared with non-Hispanic whites. Conclusion: Depression affects a substantial proportion of older adults receiving home care and may be inappropriately treated. Future research is needed to develop optimal strategies for integrating depression assessment and treatment into home care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-949
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • depression treatment
  • health and retirement study
  • home care
  • homebound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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