Depression among Arabs and Jews in Israel: a population-based study
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Depression is the second most common chronic disorder seen by primary care physicians. Risk factors associated with depression include medical and psychosocial factors. While in Israel, the rate and risk factors for depression are considered similar to those in other Western countries, population-based data are limited. The present study aims to estimate the prevalence of depression among Jews and Muslim Arabs, and to consider possible associations with demographic, socioeconomic, and health factors.
The study group (N = 872) was equally divided according to ethnicity, gender, and age group. Depression was measured by the Harvard Department of Psychiatry National Depression Screening Day Scale (HANDS).
The rate of depression scores in the likely/very likely range was 2.5 times higher among Arabs than among Jews (24.9 vs. 10.6%; P < 0.001). Women were more likely to express symptoms of depressive episode than were men (22.0 vs. 13.6%; P = 0.001), and the depression rate increased with age, from 11.0% in the youngest group (26–35) to 25.0% in the oldest (P = 0.001). The rate of increase in depression by age was different for the genders, rising more steeply for women than for men. However, the age–gender differential was not identical for the two ethnic groups. The differences in depression prevalence between Arabs and Jews were maintained after controlling for confounding variables, except that when controlling for education, the difference between the ethnic groups was no longer significant. After adjusting for all variables in the analysis, no significant association remained between ethnicity and depression (OR = 0.80; 95% CI = 0.45–1.40).
KeywordsDepression Primary care Arabs Israel
This study was partially supported by the Israel National Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research, the Israeli Association for the Study of Diabetes and the Israel Heart Fund. The funding sources had no involvement in the study design, the data collection, analysis and interpretation. The authors wish to thank Flora Lubin, Daphna Gopher, Valentina Boyko, Esther Polak and Alex Zibenber for their valuable professional assistance.
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