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Coping with depression in later life: a qualitative study of help-seeking in three ethnic groups

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1375-1383
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Research suggests high levels of depression and low levels of service use among older adults from UK minority ethnic groups. This study aimed to explore older adults' attitudes and beliefs regarding what would help someone with depression, and to consider how these may facilitate or deter older people from accessing treatment.

METHOD: In-depth individual qualitative interviews were conducted with older adults with depression (treated and untreated) and the non-depressed older population. A multi-cultural approach was used that incorporated the perspectives of 32 black Caribbean, 33 South Asian and 45 white British older adults.

RESULTS: Participants felt that the responsibility for combating depression was an internal and individual task with support considered secondary. However, the majority expressed a willingness and desire to discuss psychosocial problems. Within the black Caribbean group, conversing with God through prayer was seen as an effective means of overcoming depression, while a large proportion of South Asian and white British participants identified families as an important source of help. There was wide variation in how older adults construed the role of the general practitioner (GP) and many expressed acute awareness of the demands on GPs' time.

CONCLUSIONS: Efforts to socialize and remain active may provide a useful and acceptable adjunct to clinical interventions. However, there is a need to communicate that depression often necessitates formal help, and that it is acceptable to voice concerns regarding emotional states in a GP consultation. The findings suggest that older adults would welcome the opportunity to discuss their feelings with health-care professionals.

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