Social Determinants and Depression in Later Life

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The social determinants of health and mental health have come to the forefront as a global issue as a result of the World Health Organization's (WHO) initiative to close the health equity gap. The aim of this study is to examine social determinants and the impact on depression over the life span utilizing Cumulative Disadvantage Theory. A secondary data analysis was conducted on the 2010 wave of data from the Health and Retirement Study. A path analysis was used to determine predictors of depression in later life. Findings indicated that age and neighborhood cohesion were predictors of perceived discrimination. Although total causal effects were small for predictors of depression, results indicate a possible protective factor provided by neighborhood cohesion and social support. Implications for social work research and practice are discussed for addressing service needs of the growing older adult population.


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work Fordham University, New York, New York March 2012.