Depression and Health-Related Quality of Life Among Persons With Sensory Disabilities in a Health Professional Shortage Area

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Abstract

Objective: The authors examined depression and health-related quality of life among individuals with self-reported sensory impairments living in a health professional shortage area. Research Method: Health surveys of residents were conducted in 2006 and 2010. Responses were analyzed by groups of residents reporting vision loss, hearing loss, dual hearing and vision loss, and no sensory loss. In 2006, the total sample size was n = 2,591, and in 2010, it was n = 3,955. Main Outcome Measures: The CESD-5 scale (Shrout & Yager, 1989) was included in 2006, and the PHQ-9 (Kroenke, Spitzer, & Williams, 2001) was included in 2010. Rates of depression on the CESD-5 were determined by the recommended cut-off scores and on the PHQ-9 by the recommended algorithm. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Healthy Days instrument (Moriarty, Zack, & Kobau, 2003) was used in both surveys to assess health-related quality of life. Results: In both surveys, individuals who reported sensory loss had higher rates of depression and lower health-related quality of life than individuals with no reported sensory loss. Conclusions: Individuals reporting sensory loss had high rates of depression and a compromised quality of life compared to respondents without these impairments. These data imply strategic community-based health care services, including mental health initiatives, may be indicated for individuals with sensory loss living in underserved regions. Implications for rehabilitation psychology research, service, and policy are discussed as innovations in these areas are needed to better understand and address the disparities that may compromise the overall well-being of residents of underserved communities.

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