Abuse and violence leave their mark on elderly Colombians

February 5, 2018 | Press Releases & Announcements

Jim Stimpson

Jim Stimpson

Dr. Jim P. Stimpson, dean of academic and faculty affairs and professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), along with colleagues from the University of Texas and medical schools in Colombia examined the association between past sexual abuse and depression in older adults from Colombia. “The Association Between Past Sexual Abuse and Depression in Older Adults From Colombia” was published in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology.

To explore the association between past sexual abuse and depression in elders living in Bogotá, Colombia, the research team used data from the SABE (Salud, Bienestar y Envejecimiento [Health, Well-being, and Aging]) Bogotá Study. The participants were 2000 community-dwelling adults aged 60 years and older in 2012. Sexual abuse was assessed by self-report. Depression was measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale. The weighted prevalence estimate was 2.6 percent for past sexual abuse and 23.4 percent for depression. Multivariate data analyses showed significantly higher odds of depression for past sexual abuse. Other characteristics associated with depression were history of being displaced by violence, low socioeconomic status, low education, poor self-rated health status, and poor self-rated memory.

The team concluded that past sexual abuse tripled the risk of depression and a history of being displaced by violence doubled the depression risk in elderly Colombians.

Stimpson explains, “Globally, people are living longer and life course risk of exposure to violence increases, and the diseases of old age can be exaggerated by violence and abuse. As older adults experience the consequences of sexual abuse, such as depression,mental health care service could be strained.”

 

Flores, R. J., Campo-Arias, A., Stimpson, J. P., Chalela, C. M., & Reyes-Ortiz, C. A. (2017). The Association Between Past Sexual Abuse and Depression in Older Adults From Colombia. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 31(1), 13-18. doi:10.1177/0891988717743588