No recent attempt has been made to synthesise
information on mortality and depression
despite the theoretical and practical interest
in the topic.
Our objective was
to estimate in the older population
on mortality of
depression and depressive
Data sources were:
personal files and colleagues'
Studies were considered if they
included a majority of persons
aged 65 and over at baseline either
drawn from a total
community sample or drawn from a
random sample from the community.
Samples from health care facilities
Effect sizes were extracted from the papers
and if they were not included in the published
papers effect sizes were calculated if possible.
No attempt was made to contact authors
for missing data.
We found 21 reports on 23
For 15 of these
odds ratios were pooled using the Greenland
confidence interval based method
giving an estimated odds ratio
for mortality with depression
1.73 (95% CI 1.53 to 1.95).
A fixed effects meta-regression of these
studies suggested that longer follow-up
predicted smaller effect sizes (log odds ratios)
-0.096 per year (95% CI -0.179 to -0.014)
There is a weak suggestion of a
reduced effect of depression on
mortality for women.
We were unable to pool
effect sizes from the 17 studies using
symptom totals and scales,
nor from 8 studies of specific
The studies show that
diagnosed depression in community
resident older people is associated with
The picture on sex differences
is still unclear.