Outcome of anxiety and depression at two and a half years after baseline interview: associations with changes in psychiatric morbidity among three samples of elderly people living at home

Ann Bowling, Morag Farquhar, Emily Grundy

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Psychiatric morbidity, using the General Health Questionnaire, which detects mainly anxiety and depression, was examined in three samples of elderly people at baseline and at follow-up 2 ½– 3 years later. One sample comprised all people aged 85 plus who could be traced from Family Health Services Authority records living in an East End district of London (City and Hackney) and the other two samples were representative random samples of people aged 65– 85, one sample from the same inner city area and the other from a semi-rural area for comparison with the younger sample (Braintree, Essex). The analyses reported here relate to changes in psychiatric morbidity at follow-up 2 ½– 3 years later. Previous analyses showed that poor health and functional ability were the strongest predictors of baseline psychiatric morbidity. The results from the follow-up data show that the most significant predictor of changes in psychiatric morbidity at follow-up was baseline psychiatric status, followed by health status. Poor health and functional ability explained 15% of the variance between the groups among the 85 plus sample and 17% and 16% in the two younger 65 plus samples. The strength of the study is its longitudinal design and verification of the results in three samples of elderly people, including one very elderly group. It contributes to the small body of literature on outcome of psychiatric morbidity. The lack of consistent associations with recovery from psychiatric morbidity (eg depression) in the literature enhances the importance of studies which aim to identify factors associated with different outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119–129
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1996


  • old age
  • elderly
  • housebound
  • functional disability
  • depression
  • psychiatric morbidity

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