International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 479–488 | Cite as

Depressive symptoms among adults 18–69 years in Italy: results from the Italian behavioural risk factor surveillance system, 2007

  • Nancy Binkin
  • Antonella GigantescoEmail author
  • Gianluigi Ferrante
  • Sandro Baldissera
Original Article



Little is known about the prevalence of depressive symptoms in the Italian general population, nor about help-seeking behaviours among those with depressive symptoms.


We used 2007 data from PASSI, the Italian behavioural risk factor surveillance system, based on telephone interviews of residents aged 18–69 years. A modified version of the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 was used to explore the presence of depressive symptoms. Those with symptoms were asked about whether they had sought help. Association of depressive symptoms with risk factors and self-perceived health was evaluated.


9.4% of the interviewees met the case definition. Risk factors included older age, female sex, low educational attainment, unemployment, financial problems and chronic illnesses. Of those for whom information on help-seeking was available, 47.2% did not seek any help. Depressive symptoms were associated with poorer self-perceived health.


Population-based surveillance systems tracking the prevalence of depressive symptoms and associated risk factors and behaviours may offer needed information for planning, implementing and evaluating promotion and prevention interventions capable of reducing the number of people who go on to experience depressive episodes.


Depressive symptoms Italy Survey Adults 



The authors thank the many regional referents and the regional/local coordinators who contributed to the data collection. A special thanks goes to the health care workers in the public health departments in the LHUs who conduct the interviews. Another special thanks goes to Francesca Romana Meduri and Monica Bolli for their administrative support. Finally, they wish to thank Drs Kurt Kroenke and Tara Strine for their generous advice and assistance in the development of the Italian version of the study instrument. This work was supported by the Italian Ministry of Health/National Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (grant 4393/2004-Ccm).

Conflicts of interest statement

None declared.


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Binkin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Antonella Gigantesco
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gianluigi Ferrante
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sandro Baldissera
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Istituto Superiore di SanitàRomeItaly
  2. 2.National Centre of Epidemiology, Surveillance and Health PromotionItalian National Institute of HealthRomeItaly

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