Quality of Life Research

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 1039–1043 | Cite as

The mediating role of disability and social support in the association between low vision and depressive symptoms in older adults

  • Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen
  • Adelita V. Ranchor
  • Ton Ambergen
  • G. A. Rixt Zijlstra
Brief Communication



Vision loss is highly prevalent in old age and has a substantial impact on different aspects of quality of life including depressive symptoms. Our objective was to examine the mediating role of disability and social support in the association between low vision and depressive symptoms.


Differences in disability, social support, and depressive symptoms between 148 persons with low vision and a reference population (N = 4,792) all ≥57 years were compared. The association between low vision and depressive symptoms and the mediating role of disability and social support was examined by the means of regression.


A significant effect of low vision on depressive symptoms was identified even after the adjustment for disability and social support (standardized beta 0.053, P < 0.001). The association between low vision and symptoms of depression was partially mediated by disability, while social support was identified as a suppressor variable. Low vision, disability, and social support showed unique contributions to depressive symptoms.


Prevention of disability and the increase in social support may help to reduce symptoms of depression in older adults with low vision. By taking such information into account in their intervention work, health professionals working in this area may improve their care quality.


Low vision Depression Social support Disability 



We thank the collaborating organizations for low-vision care in the Netherlands, i.e., Bartiméus and Royal Dutch Visio. The Centre for Data and Information Management of Maastricht University (MEMIC), J. Ballemans, B. Franssen, and R. Handels are acknowledged for assistance in the data collection. This study was funded by ZonMw—The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, Program In Sight (Grant 94305004).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Adelita V. Ranchor
    • 3
  • Ton Ambergen
    • 2
    • 4
  • G. A. Rixt Zijlstra
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Health Services ResearchMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary CareMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Section Health Psychology, Department of Health Sciences, University Medical Center GroningenUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Methodology and StatisticsMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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