University of Central Florida Undergraduate Research Journal - Gender Disparities in Depression in Elderly Puerto Ricans
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Gender Disparities in Depression in Elderly
Puerto Ricans

By: Arnaldo Perez-Negron | Mentor: Dr. Fernando Rivera


As our results show, elderly females scored higher than men in the Geriatric Depression Scale. This trend has been seen globally, but various scientific publications differ on the reasons behind such phenomenon. Some have pointed out biological explanations based on sex as to why females reportedly have higher depression levels than men (Albert, 2015). Other studies suggest that there is more to it than biological differences, as social implications around aging may also play a role in the depression rates of women (Bebbington, 2003). To better understand such results, the data here show how score changes on the Geriatric Depression Scale might be estimated based on the presence or lack of the several studied independent variables. The linear regression that analyzed only elderly women shows how higher education levels correlates with lower depression levels later in life. It could be possible that higher education levels correlates with higher paying careers, more access to healthcare services, and maybe even lower stress. These factors may, in turn, positively influence physical and mental health and in some cases serve as a protective factor.

Having difficulty paying for daily necessities, suffering from congestive heart failure, or experiencing a stroke negatively affected the levels of depression. The unstandardized beta coefficients show that those three variables could have the potential to increase the GDS scores of elderly Puerto Rican women from a normal range to over a score of 5, indicating symptoms of mild depression. The additional variables, especially age, did not seem to play a significant role in how depression levels might be affected. In men, similar results were noted, except in cases of experiencing a stroke, affect depression rates later in life.

It is important to reiterate how socioeconomic status may positively or negatively affect depression levels in the elderly Puerto Rican population, something that could most likely be translated to other populations. The variable of not being able to pay for daily necessities has the potential to increase the GDS score by 1.376 in elderly women and 0.878 in men, thus surpassing the normal range to one where symptoms of mild depression can start to occur. With my results, I was able to show that some factors have the ability to influence depression levels in elderly Puerto Ricans, especially females, but the deeper question remains of why females suffer the effects more severely than men on the island of Puerto Rico.

Conclusion >>