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Elderly care recipients’ perceptions of treatment helpfulness for depression and the relationship with help-seeking

Authors Atkins J, Naismith S, Luscombe G, Hickie I

Received 26 June 2014

Accepted for publication 14 August 2014

Published 20 January 2015 Volume 2015:10 Pages 287—295

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S70086

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Joanna Atkins,1 Sharon L Naismith,1 Georgina M Luscombe,2 Ian B Hickie1

1Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia; 2School of Rural Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Orange, NSW, Australia

Objective: This study aims to examine perceptions of the helpfulness of treatments/interventions for depression held by elderly care recipients, to examine whether these beliefs are related to help-seeking and whether the experience of depression affects beliefs about treatment seeking, and to identify the characteristics of help-seekers.
Method: One hundred eighteen aged care recipients were surveyed on their beliefs about the helpfulness of a variety of treatments/interventions for depression, on their actual help-seeking behaviors, and on their experience of depression (current and past).
Results: From the sample, 32.4% of the participants screened positive for depression on the Geriatric Depression Scale, and of these, 24.2% reported receiving treatment. Respondents believed the most helpful treatments for depression were increasing physical activity, counseling, and antidepressant medication. Help-seeking from both professional and informal sources appeared to be related to belief in the helpfulness of counseling and antidepressants; in addition, help-seeking from informal sources was also related to belief in the helpfulness of sleeping tablets and reading self-help books. In univariate analyses, lower levels of cognitive impairment and being in the two lower age tertiles predicted a greater likelihood of help-seeking from professional sources, and female sex and being in the lower two age tertiles predicted greater likelihood of help-seeking from informal sources. In multivariate analyses, only lower levels of cognitive impairment remained a significant predictor of help-seeking from professional sources, whereas both lower age and female sex continued to predict a greater likelihood of help-seeking from informal sources.
Conclusion: Beliefs in the helpfulness of certain treatments were related to the use of both professional and informal sources of help, indicating the possibility that campaigns or educational programs aimed at changing beliefs about treatments may be useful in older adults.

Keywords: older adults, help-seeking, depression, prevalence, perceptions of treatments


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