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The mechanisms underlying the negative effect of socioeconomic status on depressive symptoms among older adults: The roles of social support and living arrangement.

OBJECTIVES: Previous studies have found an association between socioeconomic status (SES) and depressive symptoms among older adults, however the mechanisms underlying this association remained unclear. This study aimed to examine the mediating role of social support and the moderating role of living arrangement in the association between SES and depressive symptoms.

METHODS: Data was collected from the 2020 Household Health Interview Survey in Taian city, Shandong Province, China. A total of 3896 older adults aged 60 and above were included in this study. Depressive symptoms was measured by the Patient health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Social support by the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and other variables by related demographic scales. The moderated mediation model was examined using HAYES PROCESS 3.5.

RESULTS: SES negatively predicted depressive symptoms among older adults, and social support could mediate this association. Living arrangement played a moderating role in the relationship between social support and depressive symptoms (the second half of the mediating effect), and the effect was stronger among older adults who lived alone.

CONCLUSIONS: Social support partially mediated the relationship between SES and depressive symptoms among older adults, and living alone strengthened the effect of social support on depressive symptoms. Interventions that address older adults' social support and living arrangement may ameliorate depressive symptoms among older adults.

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