Socioeconomic inequality in psychological distress among older adults in India: a decomposition analysis

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BMC Psychiatry. 2021 Apr 7;21(1):179. doi: 10.1186/s12888-021-03192-4.


BACKGROUND: Older people coming from a lower wealth gradient are more vulnerable to have stressful life events further adding more risk for common mental health disorders and psychological distress situations. The present study explores the associations between socioeconomic and health-related variables and psychological distress among older adults in India and the contribution of such factors to the inequalities in psychological distress.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of 9181 older adults conducted as ‘Building a Knowledge Base on Population Ageing in India’ was assessed. Logistic regression and decomposition models were used to analyze the data. Psychological distress was measured from General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). The value of Cronbach’s alpha was 0.90. It was having a scale of 0 to 12 on the basis of experiencing stressful symptoms and was re-coded as 0 (representing 6+ stressful symptoms) and 1 (representing 5 and fewer symptoms).

RESULTS: Older adults from the poored, suffering from multi-morbidity, disabled, with low activities of daily living and low instrumental activities of daily living and poor cognitive ability were suffering from high psychological distress in India. Further, factors such as religion, caste, education, living arrangements, and self-worth in the family were major contributors to the concentration of psychological distress in older adults from poor households (concentration index: – 0.23).

CONCLUSION: The study suggests that among older people, there is a wide disparity of experiencing psychological distress across different socio-economic groups with significant factors being responsible for inequality in psychological distress. There is a need to build a “win-win” circumstance across sectors, including a broad spectrum of health, social and economic benefits to the vulnerable older population.

PMID:33823847 | DOI:10.1186/s12888-021-03192-4