New research suggests appropriate care for depression could reduce the length and need for hospitalization in elderly men.
A new study found in the Canadian Medical Association Journal discovered depressed elderly men have a twofold risk of admission to hospital.
“Men with depression had a twofold increase in the mean number of hospital admissions, and these lasted on average twice as long as for men without depression,” writes Dr. Matthew Prina, Institute of Public Health, Cambridge University.
Researchers from Australia, the UK and the Netherlands followed 5,411 men aged 69 years and older in Perth, Western Australia, to determine whether hospital admissions were higher for men with depressive symptoms than for those without.
Investigators used the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale to determione if an individual was depressed.
Of the 5411 participants, 339 (6 percent) had a score of 7 or greater, indicating moderate to severe depression. Almost half (45 percent) of the depressed men had at least one emergency admission to hospital compared with 23 percent (1,164 of 5072 non-depressed men).
Depressed men were older, less educated, in poorer health with more illnesses and more likely to smoke. Overnight admissions and deaths in hospital were also higher in this group.
Researchers suggest several possibilities for higher rates of admission.
For one, depressed patients often do not follow treatment plans and could arrive at hospital with acute illness. Another factor is that depression may exacerbate chronic diseases and may make it more difficult for individuals to communicate with their health care providers.
“Even after adjustment for a robust measure of comorbidity… depression was a strong independent risk factor for hospital admission, longer hospital stays and worse hospital outcomes.
“This suggests that the association between depression and comorbidity, disability and hospital admission is complex and cannot be attributed solely to age, prevalent clinical morbidity, social support, education or smoking,” the authors write.
Experts say this study is unique as it looked at depressed people living in the community, rather than depression among specific populations in clinical settings.
“Few studies have investigated the effect of clinically significant depressive symptoms on hospital admission and outcomes in people living in the community,” the authors write.