, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 185-193

Depression among Puerto Ricans in New York City: the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

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Abstract

This study was conducted to analyze determinants of depression among Puerto Ricans by replicating and expanding earlier studies of depression among Cuban Americans and Mexican Americans. Data from the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1982–1984, were employed to examine depression and associated characteristics among Puerto Ricans. We utilized descriptive and multivariate statistics to examine the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)-assessed depressive symptomatology and the DSM-III/DIS specification of major depression. The findings indicated that CES-D-assessed depressive symptomatology among Puerto Ricans was associated with female gender, disrupted marital status, poor health, and lower socioeconomic status as indicated by low education, low household income, age, and unemployment. For both 6-month and 1-month DIS major depression, age, disrupted marital status, and income of less than $ 5,000 were significant risk factors. For 6-month DIS major depression, never-married persons had a higher risk for depression. For 1-month diagnoses, writing Spanish better than English was associated with lower risk. In general, our findings for Puerto Ricans were similar to studies of depression among other Hispanic groups. We remained unable to explain the relatively extreme levels of depression among Puerto Ricans in New York, though several probable explanations are elaborated. We emphasized the general need to expand the range of research designs and current risk models in epidemiology in an effort to capture the complexity of psychosocial and cultural processes relevant to psychological distress.