2-year study looked at more than 10,000 Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes
In a large group of Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, depression was associated with a higher death rate from all causes during a two-year study period. The findings are published in the October 2008 Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Lead author Dr. Wayne Katon, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington (UW), noted that previous research indicates that depression and diabetes is a potentially lethal mix among young to middle-aged patients. Depression also puts patients at greater risk of complications from their diabetes. This more recent study suggests that depression is also a risk factor for mortality in older patients with diabetes. Most Medicare beneficiaries, like the ones in this study, are over age 65. The mean age of the participants was 75.6 years.
The study tracked 10,704 Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes who were enrolled in a disease management program in Florida. They were surveyed at the start of the study with a health assessment questionnaire. Evidence of depression among members of the group came from physician diagnosis, patient reports of having a prescription for an antidepressant in the year before the survey, or patient answers to a brief screening test. For the next two years, the research team recorded the death and cause of death of participants through bi-monthly checks of Medicare claims and eligibility files, or from phone calls with the participants' families.
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