Socioeconomic inequalities in impairment associated with depressive symptoms: Evidence from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health

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Objective: Individuals with low socioeconomic status have higher rates of depression, but it is unknown whether the socioeconomically disadvantaged also have more disabling depressive symptoms. We examined (1) the associations of three indicators of socioeconomic status with depression-related severe role impairment, and (2) whether socioeconomic factors moderate the association between individual depression symptoms and depression-related severe role impairment. Methods: We used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Depressive symptoms, role impairment and socioeconomic indicators (poverty, participation in workforce, educational attainment) were self-reported by participants. The analytic sample consisted of participants who screened positive for a depressive episode during past 12 months (n = 32 661). We used survey-weighted logistic models to examine the associations of depressive symptoms with severe role impairment and the modifying effects of socioeconomic indicators. Results: The association between depression symptom count and severe role impairment was stronger among those not in workforce (OR = 1.12[1.02-1.23]). The association between specific depression symptoms and severe role impairment was stronger for conditions of poverty (fatigue, OR = 2.97 [1.54-5.73]; and anhedonia, OR = 1.93[1.13-3.30]), workforce non-participation (inability to concentrate/indecisiveness, OR = 1.54 [1.12-2.12]), and lower educational attainment (anhedonia, OR = 0.77 [0.59-0.99]). Feelings of worthlessness was the only symptom with independent associations for all socioeconomic groups (adjusted OR = 1.91 [1.35-2.70]). Conclusion: Depression was more frequent and also more disabling for socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, especially when assessed with workforce participation. Additionally, some specific symptoms showed socioeconomic differences. Our findings highlight the need to prioritize population groups with more severe impairment associated with depressive symptoms.
TidskriftJournal of Psychiatric Research
Sidor (från-till)74-80
Antal sidor7
StatusPublicerad - sep 2021
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


  • 515 Psykologi

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