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Vision and hearing impairments are associated with depressive–anxiety syndrome in Italian elderly

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Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between vision and hearing impairment and depressive–anxiety syndrome in a large population participating in the Faenza Project, Northern Italy.

Method: The study population consisted of 7389 participants not affected by dementia, 4408 (59.7%), of whom were women, mean age ± standard deviation (±SD) 71.9 (±7.7) years. Information about previous or current psychiatric symptoms, including sleeping and eating habits, non-verbal language and ability in activity of daily living was used to investigate depressive and anxiety syndrome. A semi-structured interview was administered to survey the presence of sensory impairment. Logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate the association between sensory impairment and depressive–anxiety syndrome estimating Odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI).

Results: The prevalence of vision and hearing impairment was 1.4% and 0.2%, respectively, with an increasing trend in people aged 75+ years (p < 0.001). The prevalence of depressive syndrome was higher among vision-impaired participants (20.2% vs. 9.3%, p < 0.001), especially women (22.9%) and persons aged 75+ years (22.1%). The prevalence of anxiety syndrome was higher in the hearing-impaired group (25.0% vs. 11.0%, p = 0.09). Vision-impaired participants, especially women and participants aged 75+ years had have a twofold higher probability to have depressive syndrome (OR = 2.03, 95% CI = 1.21–3.38), and hearing-impaired individuals showed an increased probability of presenting anxiety syndrome (OR = 2.71, 95% CI = 0.86–8.55), although these results were not statistically significant.

Conclusion: This study's findings suggest that sensory impairment in older adults can increase their probability of experiencing depressive and anxiety syndrome. Correction of these deficits could improve the quality of life in this population.
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Keywords: anxiety; depression; epidemiology; hearing impairment; vision impairment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Psychiatry, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy 2: Unit of Geriatric Medicine, Local Health Authority of Ravenna, Ravenna, Italy

Publication date: May 1, 2011

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