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ERIC Number: EJ1051399
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-May
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Comparing Changes in Late-Life Depressive Symptoms across Aging, Disablement, and Mortality Processes
Fauth, Elizabeth B.; Gerstorf, Denis; Ram, Nilam; Malmberg, Bo
Developmental Psychology, v50 n5 p1584-1593 May 2014
Developmental processes are inherently time-related, with various time metrics and transition points being used to proxy how change is organized with respect to the theoretically underlying mechanisms. Using data from 4 Swedish studies of individuals aged 70-100+ (N = 453) who were measured every 2 years for up to 5 waves, we tested whether depressive symptoms (according to the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale; Radloff, 1977) are primarily driven by aging-, disablement-, or mortality-related processes, as operationally defined by time-from-birth, time-to/from-disability-onset (1st reported impairment in Personal Activities of Daily Living; Katz, Ford, Moskowitz, Jackson, & Jaffe, 1963), and time-to-death metrics. Using an approach based on Akaike weights, we tested whether developmental trajectories (for each time metric) of depressive symptoms in late life are more efficiently described as a single continuous process or as a 2-phase process. Comparing fits of linear and multiphase growth models, we found that 2-phase models demonstrated better fit than did single-phase models across all time metrics. Time-to-death and time-to/from-disability-onset models provided more efficient descriptions of changes in depressive symptoms than did time-from-birth models, with time-to-death models representing the best overall fit. Our findings support prior research that late-life changes in depressive symptoms are driven by disablement and, particularly, mortality processes, rather than advancing chronological age. From a practical standpoint, time-to/from-disability-onset and, particularly, time-to-death metrics may provide better "base" models from which to examine changes in late-life depressive symptoms and determine modifiable risk and protective factors. Developmental researchers across content areas can compare age with other relevant time metrics to determine if chronological age or other processes drive the underlying developmental change in their construct of interest.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institute on Aging (DHHS/NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Sweden
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale
Grant or Contract Numbers: R03 AG028471; R21-AG033109; RC1-AG035645; R21- AG032379