The Link between Functional Limitations and Mental Health among Mature and Elderly Adults in Rural Malawi

Iliana V. Kohler, University of Pennsylvania
Hans-Peter Kohler, University of Pennsylvania

Adults age 45+ are not routinely screened for mental disorders in resource-constraint settings such as sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and the correlates of mental health are poorly documented on the population level. The SSA context is also characterized by high rates of chronic disability and earlier onset of functional limitations that occur at younger ages compared to developed countries. The association between physical health and disability and mental health, specifically depression, is not well documented in SSA. We investigate the link between functional limitations and mental health among adults aged 45+ years in rural Malawi using a unique longitudinal representative dataset that provides extensive socioeconomic and health information, including the SF-12 physical and mental health scores, PHQ-9 depression and anxiety scores. We address the question if poor physical health and duration of disability result in poor mental health and whether gender, familial and contextual characteristics and mechanisms may alter this association.

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Presented in Session 187: Health, Functional Limitations and Disability in Older Adults