Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of depression in an elderly population living with family members in Beijing, China

X. Maa1, Y.-T. Xianga1a2 c1, S.-R. Lia3, Y.-Q. Xianga1, H.-L. Guoa1, Y.-Z. Houa1, Z.-J. Caia1, Z.-B. Lia1, Z.-J. Lia1, Y.-F. Taoa1, W.-M. Danga3, X.-M. Wua1, J. Denga1, G. S. Ungvaria2 and H. F. K. Chiua2

a1 Beijing An Ding Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China

a2 Department of Psychiatry, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

a3 Institute of Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing, China


Background To date, there has been no large-scale survey of geriatric depression (GD) involving both rural and urban areas in China using standardized assessment tools and diagnostic criteria. This study aimed to determine the 12-month and lifetime prevalence rates of GD and sociodemographic correlates in urban and rural regions of Beijing, China.

Method A total of 1601 elderly patients (aged 60 years) were randomly selected and interviewed in Beijing using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI 1.0). Basic sociodemographic and clinical data were also collected during the interviews.

Results The overall 12-month prevalence of GD was 4.33%, and the 12-month prevalence rates for men and women were 2.65% and 5.83% respectively. The overall lifetime prevalence of GD was 7.83%, and lifetime prevalence rates for men and women were 4.65% and 10.66% respectively. Female sex, lower educational level, monthly income, rural abode, and the presence of one or more major medical conditions were associated with increased risk of GD. Of the GD subjects interviewed, 25.2% were receiving some type of treatment, with only 4.7% preferring to seek treatment from mental health professionals.

Conclusions Although still relatively low by international standards, there is an increasing trend in the prevalence of GD in China. The low percentage of subjects treated for GD is a major public health concern that should be addressed urgently.

(Received October 10 2007)

(Revised January 25 2008)

(Accepted January 27 2008)

(Online publication March 26 2008)


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Yu-Tao Xiang, Department of Psychiatry, Shatin Hospital, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong SAR, China. (Email: