The Social Distribution of Psychological Distress and Depression in Older Adults
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OBJECTIVE: This study examines the associations between social position and mental health and explores whether differences in distress and depression by social position can be accounted for by differences in the major components of the stress process model. We extend previous work by including an ethnocultural measure alongside more traditional measures of social position. METHOD: Secondary data analysis of the 1994 National Population Health Survey. RESULTS: Consistent with findings from studies of younger adults, mental health in later life is determined in part by age, gender, marital status, education, and ethnocultural factors. The data indicate that the life experiences connected to these social positions are largely responsible for these effects. DISCUSSION: Our findings suggest that key social factors are related to mental health in late life, because one's position in the social structure shapes the stressors they encounter and the resources they have at their disposal to cope with them.
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