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Rates of depression and anxiety in urban and rural Canada

  • Sarah Romans
  • Marsha Cohen
  • Tonia Forte
Original Paper

Abstract

Background

Studies of urban–rural differences in rates of non-psychotic psychiatric disorders have produced contradictory results, with some finding higher urban rates and others no difference.

Aims

This study aimed to compare geographic variability of rates of depression and three anxiety disorders in a large, random community sample of Canadian residents.

Method

Data from the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey 1.2 were analyzed, using a four-category classification of urban-rurality.

Results

Significant bivariate urban–rural differences were found for age, marital status, country of birth, ethnicity, education, household income, income adequacy, employment, home ownership, physical activity, perceived stress, and physical health. In addition, participants in the urban core and urban fringe had a weaker sense of belonging to their community and reported lower social support. There was a modest urban excess of depression in the previous 12 months but no difference in rates of agoraphobia, panic disorder or social phobia across the geographical areas. The multivariate modeling showed a lower prevalence of depression for people living in the most rural environment only (odds ratio = 0.76, 95% confidence interval = 0.59, 0.98). Factors associated with an increased rate of depression in the model were female gender, younger age, being not married, being born in Canada, white ethnicity, higher education, unemployment, not owning one’s home, and poor physical health. Also, participants with a stronger sense of belonging to their community and higher social support reported lower rates of depression.

Conclusions

These results confirmed a lower risk of depression amongst rural dwellers, which was associated with a stronger sense of community belonging. Further research on this topic could usefully include community-level variables, usually subsumed under the rubric of social capital.

Keywords

Urban–rural Depression Anxiety Canada Physical health Social capital 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. We thank the anonymous reviewer who encouraged us to use the four value urban-rurality classification.

Conflict of interest statement

None.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.TorontoCanada

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