• community-dwelling older adults;
  • depression;
  • depression prevention;
  • healthcare providers;
  • qualitative study;
  • Taiwan;
  • thematic analysis

Aims and objectives.  To describe healthcare providers’ views on depression and its prevention in older people.

Background.  There is an urgent need to develop public health approaches to depression prevention in older adults because of the growing older population and the high rate of depression among community-dwelling older adults in Taiwan. Prior studies have focused on the prevalence of and risk factors for depression in Taiwanese community-dwelling older adults. Research from the viewpoints of prevention and healthcare providers is needed to guide these approaches.

Design.  A qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews.

Methods.  A purposive sample of 25 healthcare providers was recruited from a city in northern Taiwan. Data were collected through in-depth individual interviews and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results.  Results were embedded within four major themes: lack of children’s support, maladaptation to distressing life circumstances in late life, innate vulnerability in the individuals and being unaware of or reluctant to accept an illness.

Conclusions.  Participants’ accounts of depression and its prevention were conceptualised within the family and socio-cultural contexts older adults lived in. Lack of children’s support was reported as a main contributor to depression in older adults. Society was reported as the main context in which depression prevention intervention should take place. Communal activities were described as important for mental wellness and depression prevention.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Study findings show how family, Chinese culture and socio-economic circumstances influence accounts of depression and its prevention in older adults. Attention to the cultural construction of meanings may help extend our vision beyond a focus on the biomedical discourse and promote innovative ways of tackling depression that match the policy goals with the needs of older adults and community.