Methods:This cross-sectional study utilized data from wave 4 of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). The total sample in the study was 2,560 heterosexual couples aged 60 and above. Each individual’s severity of depression was measured by the 10-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. A multilevel model was used to analyze the dyadic data.
Results:Our preliminary findings suggested the partial intraclass correlation between a dyad’s depression scores was 0.32, controlling for individual and family factors. This provided evidence of nonindependence and suggested that a couple’s depression scores were similar to one another. Four significant factors were identified: women, on average, had a higher depression score than men (ß = .93, p < .001); older adults living in rural areas tended to have a higher depression score compared to older adults living in urban areas (ß = 1.41, p < .001); older age was a predictor of lower depression scores (ß =-.05, p < .01); and self-cognition (ß = -0.25, p < .001) and spouse’s cognition (ß = -0.11, p < .001) were negatively associated with the severity of depression.
Conclusions and Implications: The results of this study provide important implications for social welfare interventions regarding how to serve the growing older population in China. As spousal cognition was negatively correlated with depression, services to support older couples in which one spouse has dementia are needed. Moreover, the findings provided empirical evidence to support the argument that more community mental health resources should be allocated to rural areas in China.In addition, given that female older adults are more vulnerable to depression compared to male older adults, it is imperative to develop tailored services to support the psychological wellbeing of women.