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

Introduction

Studies of health outcomes of Puerto Ricans show that, compared to other Hispanics in the U.S. Puerto Ricans have the highest rate of lifetime psychiatric disorders (Alegria, 2007). Other reports on mental health indicate that 7.3% of adult Puerto Ricans in the island may have serious mental health illnesses (BSRI, 2016). When looking at physical health, data from previous National Health Interview Surveys in the United States found the Puerto Rican population had the worst overall health of all Hispanic subgroups and reported poorer health when compared to non-Hispanic whites (Lucas, 2016). When the focus is on gender, evidence from past studies have reported that females all over the world have higher depression rates than men regardless of age (Girgus, 2017), and as of 2010 women had a 1.7-fold higher prevalence of depression (Albert, 2015) This disparity could be caused by unequal status and power, physical or sexual abuse, pregnancy, puberty, postpartum depression, premenstrual problems, work overload, menopause and perimenopause, and hormonal changes (Mayo Clinic, 2019). On the island of Puerto Rico, similar trends have been noted. This study focuses on the gender disparities in depression among elderly Puerto Ricans living in the island. The goal is to highlight the socioeconomic, education, and health risk factors of elderly Puerto Ricans. This work is of critical importance due to the high rates of mental health issues in Puerto Ricans and the constantly increasing elderly population in the island in the wake of a massive exodus of the young working class; more than 530,000 persons left the island between 2010 and 2018 (US Census Bureau, 2010-2018).

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