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Stereotypes Contribute to Older Men Seeking, Receiving Depression Care Less Frequently

approach might be to de-emphasize professional labels and place more emphasis on symptoms and sources of stress. Health-care providers interviewed by the UC Davis researchers suggested other strategies, such as using an open-ended interview style, using less direct or clinical (i.e., threatening) language to discuss depression, and involving family in all phases of treatment.

The researchers acknowledge that their study “should be considered as exploratory and hypothesis-generating because of the modest number of interviews conducted.” An expanded study “with a more representative sample of clinicians and patients would be likely to deepen our understanding” of the themes identified in the study, and to identify other important factors.

“The public health importance of improving care for depression among older men is clear,” the study states. “Older men experience higher rates of completed suicide than any other age and gender group. Because depression is one of the most important suicide risk factors, elucidating gender-specific aspects of depression care has the potential to reduce this disparity, close the gender gap in depression treatment, and lessen the enormous burden of suffering for older adults and their families.”

The second author on the study was Mark Zweifach, a psychiatrist from Kaiser Permanente, Southern California. Other collaborators on the study were Sabine Oishi and Lingqui Tang, both from UCLA; and Jurgen Unutzer, from the University of Washington. The study was funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation and the National Institute n Aging.



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