Late-life depression: Burden, severity and relationship with social support dimensions in a West African community Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: The occurrence of depression in old age is often linked with grave consequences. The purpose of this study is to investigate the burden of depression and its relationship with perceived social support among the elderly in a West African community setting. METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, participants made up of 350 elders aged 60 years and above were selected through multi-stage random sampling technique. All participants were interviewed with designed questionnaire, multidimensional scale of perceived social support (MSPSS) and Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) to elicit socio-demographic profile, social support and depressive psychopathology respectively. RESULTS: The participants were largely females (52.9%) and their mean age was 68.8±7.3 years. A little above one-quarter (26.4%) had depressive episode, and mild severity was preponderant. Low level of social support was associated with depression (χ(2)=8.418, p=0.004); especially low social supports from significant others (χ(2)=3.989, p=0.046) and family members (χ(2)=4.434, p=0.035). Similarly, severity of depression in the elderly correlated negatively with availability of social support from significant others (χ(2)=5.495, p=0.019) and family members (χ(2)=5.149, p=0.023). CONCLUSION: Considering the burden of depression in this elderly population and the influential roles of social support especially from family and significant others on depression; strengthening of informal social support and formal social support for the elders is advocated. In addition, design of community based geriatric mental health with social services and articulation of public policy to address old age needs are implied.


  • Olagunju, Andrew
  • Olutoki, Michael Olasunkanmi
  • Ogunnubi, Oluseun Peter
  • Adeyemi, Joseph Dada

publication date

  • September 2015