Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Descriptive Epidemiology of a Depressive Syndrome in a Western Canadian Community Population

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Descriptive Epidemiology of a Depressive Syndrome in a Western Canadian Community Population

Article excerpt


Objective: To evaluate cross-sectional associations between depressive episodes and a set of potential biopsychosocial determinants in Calgary, Canada.

Methods: Random digit dialling (RDD) was used to select a sample consisting of 2,542 household residents in Calgary. These subjects were interviewed over the telephone using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) short form for major depression, and a questionnaire evaluating a variety of biopsychosocial variables.

Results: The prevalence of major depression was associated with biological (family history of major depression, alcohol consumption, street drug use), psychological (ratings of stress, recent life events) and social factors (social support, marital status, income, level of education).

Conclusion: This study confirms that major depression is correlated with a diverse set of potential determinants in community populations, and that the impact of these determinants may differ between different populations. Prospective studies will be needed to further investigate these associations.


Objectif: Evaluer les liens transversaux entre les acres depressifs et un ensemble de determinants bio-psycho-sociaux possibles a Calgary.

Methode : Nous avons selectionne par composition aleatoire un echantillon de 2 542 menages a Calgary. Les sujets ont ete interviews au telephone a l'aide de la forme abrtgee pour la depression majeure du Composite International Diagnostic Interview et d'un questionnaire evaluant une gamme de variables biopsycho-sociales.

Resultats : La prevalence de la depression majeure etait associee a des facteurs biologiques (antecedents familiaux de depression majeure, consummation d'alcool ou de drogues illicites), psychologiques (perception du stress, recents evenements marquants) et sociaux (soutien social, etat matrimonial, revenu, scolarite).

Conclusion: L'etude confirme que la depression majeure est corree avec un ensemble diversifie de determinants dans les populations locales, et que les incidences de ces determinants peuvent warier d'une population at I'autre. Il faudrait mener des etudes prospectives pour elucider ces correlations.

An expanding literature has begun to explore the etiology of major depression from a biopsychosocial epidemiological perspective. For example, a series of studies by Kendler and others,1,2 based on a female twin sample, have confirmed the shared contribution of genetic and environmental factors to major depression etiology. Studies from an ECA survey reported an elevated incidence of major depression in relation to poverty,3 a finding consistent with more recent data from other sources.4,5 The National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) in the United States evaluated an expanded set of risk factors compared to earlier studies, but family history of depression as well as other potentially important risk factors were not evaluated.

The available literature suggests that major depression is associated with biological as well as psychosocial factors in community populations. The objective of this study was to describe cross-sectional correlations between major depression and a series of biological, psychological and social variables in a western Canadian community population.


Data collection took place between February 1, 1998 and July 1, 1999. The sample was selected by random digit dialling (RDD), using the MitofskyWaksberg method 7 with a modification described in a review by Potthoff.8 The modification involved random generation of a set of 10 phone numbers from each sampling "block," rather than repeating second stage calling until a pre-set number of interviews were completed. When a residential household was reached, one member of the household having had the most recent birthday was selected for an interview. The target population consisted of adults aged 18 years or older who were residents of telephone-containing households in Calgary. …

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