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


Data from the first wave of the cross-sectional survey Puerto Rican Elderly: Health Conditions (PREHCO) were analyzed utilizing the analytical software Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The sample data from the PREHCO contained the results of questionnaires sent out to over 3,600 elderly Puerto Ricans living in the island of Puerto Rico from 2002 to 2003. The questionnaires were administered via faceto-face interviews that asked questions about medical conditions, health status, and demographic background, and that included physical and mental evaluations (Palloni, 2002). Our analytical sample size was 3631. For mental health evaluations, depression levels were assessed via the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) Short Form, which asked respondents how they felt over the past week on 15 questions, including items such as life satisfaction, happiness, helplessness, and hopelessness, among others. Response options were Yes or No and scores ranged from 0 to 15. Other variables utilized in the study included age, which had scores that ranged from 60 to 107; schooling, which was measured using response options from 0 to 16, starting from no schooling to postgraduate studies; gender, which asked if the respondent was either male or female; and difficulty of paying for daily necessities, which was asked as a 'yes' or 'no' question. Medical questions were also asked with yes or no answers about diabetes, hypertension, myocardial infarction, coronary heart failure, and stroke. A response of No was assigned a 0, while a Yes was assigned a 1. Men were assigned a value of 0 while women were assigned a value of 1. Variables were recoded in order to efficiently run and compare different data points. The results of the unstandardized regressions were used to test the association between the predictors and the outcome variable. These results would then be identified as potential risk factors for depression in elders living in Puerto Rico.

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