Associations between self-rated mental health and psychiatric disorders among older adults: do racial/ethnic differences exist?

Giyeon Kim, Jamie DeCoster, David A Chiriboga, Yuri Jang, Rebecca S Allen, Patricia Parmelee
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2011, 19 (5): 416-22

OBJECTIVE: [corrected] This study examined racial/ethnic differences in the association between self-rated mental health (SRMH) and psychiatric disorders among community-dwelling older adults in the United States.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional analyses of nationally representative data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (2001-2003).

SETTING: In-person household interviews.

PARTICIPANTS: Older adults aged 60 and older (N = 1,840), including non-Hispanic Whites (N = 351), Blacks (N = 826), Hispanics (N = 406), and Asians (N = 257).

MEASUREMENTS: SRMH was measured with a single item, "How would you rate your own mental health?" Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), diagnoses for mood and anxiety disorders were measured with the World Health Organization's World Mental Health version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

RESULTS: Results from logistic regression analyses showed significant main effects of both SRMH and race/ethnicity on the presence of mood and anxiety disorders: people who have poor SRMH and are non-Hispanic Whites were more likely to have mood and anxiety disorders. There were also significant interaction effects between SRMH and race/ethnicity, such that the relation of SRMH with diagnoses of psychiatric disorders was strongest in non-Hispanic Whites.

CONCLUSIONS: Racial/ethnic variations were found in the relationship between self-perception of mental health and DSM-IV psychiatric disorders. The findings suggest the need to develop race/ethnicity-specific strategies to screen psychiatric disorders in diverse elderly populations. Future studies are needed to investigate possible reasons for the racial/ethnic group differences.

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