Journal of Epidemiology
Online ISSN : 1349-9092
Print ISSN : 0917-5040
Original Article
Community Social Capital, Built Environment, and Income-Based Inequality in Depressive Symptoms Among Older People in Japan: An Ecological Study From the JAGES Project
Maho HasedaNaoki KondoToyo AshidaYukako TaniDaisuke TakagiKatsunori Kondo
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2018 Volume 28 Issue 3 Pages 108-116


Background: Although reducing socioeconomic inequalities in depression is necessary, their associated factors have rarely been studied. This study aimed to screen the potential contextual factors associated with income-based inequality in older adults’ depression.

Methods: Using data from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES) of 2013, we conducted an ecological study covering 77 communities in Japan. Our measures of socioeconomic inequalities in depression were the slope index of inequalities (SII) and the relative index of inequalities (RII) of the prevalence of depressive symptoms across three income levels. We categorized available community-level factors, including socio-demographic factors, social participation, social relationships, subjective changes in the residential area, and the built environment. These indicators were aggregated from individual responses of 51,962 and 52,958 physically independent men and women, respectively, aged 65 years or more. We performed multiple linear regression analyses to explore factors with statistical significance of a two-tailed P-value less than 0.05.

Results: Factors associated with shallower gradients in depression for men included higher participation in local activities and reception or provision of social support, which did not show significant association among women. Perceived increases in unemployment and economic inequalities were positively associated with larger inequalities in both genders (P < 0.05). The built environment did not indicate any significant association.

Conclusions: A community environment fostering social activities and relationships might be associated with smaller income-based inequalities in depression. There is a need for more deterministic studies for planning of effective community interventions to address socioeconomic inequalities in depression.

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© 2017 Maho Haseda et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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