Indicators of material hardship and depressive symptoms among homebound older adults living in North Carolina. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study used the concept of material hardship to understand how unmet needs related to food, housing, and health influence depressive symptoms among homebound older adults (N = 345) in North Carolina. Using data from the Nutrition and Function Study, 37% reported high levels of depressive symptoms and 17.4% indicated not receiving needed health care. Approximately 10% of respondents were food insecure; 30.7% were at risk for food insecurity; and 39.7% reported having to choose between either food and medication or food and paying bills. Adjusted logistic regression model revealed that food insecurity status (OR = 4.9) and age 60-74 y (OR = 2.4) were significantly associated with a greater number of depressive symptoms. Other indicators of material hardship, such as having a major financial difficulty, unmet health need, and inadequate housing, were not significant. By far, food insecurity was the most salient influence on depressive symptoms. These findings have important implications for service providers, researchers, and policymakers.

published proceedings

  • J Nutr Gerontol Geriatr

author list (cited authors)

  • Johnson, C. M., Sharkey, J. R., & Dean, W. R.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Johnson, Cassandra M||Sharkey, Joseph R||Dean, Wesley R

publication date

  • April 2011