• depression;
  • Hispanic Americans;
  • Mexican Americans;
  • acculturation;
  • geriatric

OBJECTIVE: HTo determine the association between acculturation, immigration, and prevalence of depression in older Mexican Americans.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis from a cohort study.

SETTING: Urban and rural counties of the Central Valley of Northern California.

PARTICIPANTS: One thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine Latinos recruited from a population-based sample (85% Mexican Americans) with a mean age of 70.6 (range 60–100; standard deviation (SD) = 7.13); 58.2% were women.

MEASUREMENTS: Depressive symptoms were assessed with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies—Depression scale (CES-D). Acculturation was measured with the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans—II. Psychosocial, behavioral, and medical histories were also obtained.

RESULTS: The prevalence of depression (CES-D ≥ 16) was 25.4%. Women were at greater risk (32.0%) than men (16.3%; male/female odds ratio (OR) = 2.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.90–3.09). The prevalence of depression was higher among immigrants (30.4%, OR = 1.70, 95% CI = 1.36–2.13), bicultural participants (24.2%, OR = 1.66, 95% CI = 1.24–2.24), and less-acculturated participants (36.1%, OR = 2.95, 95% CI = 2.22–3.93) compared with U.S.-born (20.5%) and more-acculturated groups (16.1%). When adjustments for education, income, psychosocial, behavioral, and health-problem factors were made, the least-acculturated participants were at significantly higher risk of depression than highly acculturated Mexican Americans (OR = 1.56, 95% CI = 1.06–2.31).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings are consistent with previously reported estimates of a higher prevalence of depression for older Mexican Americans than non-Hispanic Caucasians and African Americans and are the first to report the prevalence and risk of depression for older U.S.-born and immigrant Mexican Americans. The high prevalence of depression of the least acculturated group may be related to cultural barriers encountered by immigrants and less-acculturated older Mexican Americans and to poorer health status.