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Keywords:

  • depressive symptoms;
  • birth cohort;
  • Chinese older adults;
  • cross-temporal meta-analysis

Objective

With the dramatic changes in Chinese society and economy, the average depressive symptoms of Chinese older adults might have changed across their birth cohort. This study aims to examine the changes in the depressive symptoms of Chinese older adults by analyzing data from 1987 to 2010.

Methods

The study examines the changes in the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale scores of older adults for the past 24 years (1987 to 2010) by using cross-temporal meta-analysis. A total of 35,299 older adults were included in the data.

Results

The results show the following. (i) Correlations between the mean scores and data collection year are significantly positive. The mean scores in the depressive symptoms of Chinese older adults show an increase of at least 0.53 standard deviations from 1987 to 2010. (ii) The means of the scores in the depressive symptoms of both male and female older adults exhibit a significant increase in the past 24 years, with the rising tendency of women being considerably higher than that of men. (iii) Depressive symptoms show a significant increase for different age groups in the past 24 years, whereas scores for depressive symptoms have no significant difference in terms of age group.

Conclusions

Social changes play an important role in predicting the changes in the depressive symptoms of older adults. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.