Health Policy Manag.  2020 Jun;30(2):231-244. 10.4332/KJHPA.2020.30.1.231.

Associations between Chronic Diseases and Depression in the Korean Elderly: A Gender-Specific Analysis

  • 1Stryker Korea
  • 2Departments of Health Policy and Management, Graduate School of Public Health, Yonsei University, Seoul;
  • 3Departments of Hospital Administration, Graduate School of Public Health, Yonsei University, Seoul;
  • 4Health Insurance Research Institute, National Health Insurance Service, Wonju, Korea


As the population is aging, chronic diseases and depression are becoming the main problems in a country’s healthcare system. In this study, we aimed to explore the associations between chronic diseases and depression among the elderly in South Korea.
We analyzed 9,975 (men, 4,147; women, 5,828) respondents obtained from the 2014 National Survey of Living Conditions and Welfare Needs of Korean Older Persons. Our dependent variable was either 1 or 0 according to whether a respondent had depression or not, where depression was defined when the Short Form of Geriatric Depression Scale score was 8 or more points. Variables of interest were 24 types of chronic diseases and covariates included various socio-demographic and health behavior characteristics. We performed Rao-Scott chi-square tests and hierarchal logistic regression analyses by gender, reflecting the characteristics of the survey.
A significant difference was found in the proportion of having depression between genders (men 18.9% vs. women 23.4%). According to fully adjusted, multivariable analyses, for elderly men, relative to those without any chronic disease, the odds ratio of depression was 1.56 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10–2.22) in the stroke patients group and 1.82 (95% CI, 1.01–3.25) in the osteoporosis patients group. For elderly women, the odds ratio was 1.96 (95% CI, 1.28–3.00) in the fracture/dislocation and aftereffects patients group and 1.30 (95% CI, 1.03–1.64) in the group of patients with other diseases.
Even after being adjusted for diverse characteristics, some chronic diseases were significantly associated with depression in the elderly and the association differed between genders. Therefore, public health and medical interventions are needed to manage such chronic diseases together with curing depression symptoms.


Chronic disease; Depression; Survey of Living Conditions and Welfare Needs of the Elderly; Republic of Korea
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