The objective of this study is to investigate the cross-cultural relationship between depressive state and subjective economic status, as well as subjective quality of life (QOL) and activities of daily living (ADL) among elderly people in communities in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. We studied 595 subjects aged 65 years or older in three Asian communities (261 subjects in T town in Japan, 164 in D town in Taiwan, and 170 in H town in Korea). The Geriatric Depression Scale-15, a self-rating questionnaire assessing ADL, subjective QOL, social situations, and past and current medical status, was used. Depression of the elderly was associated with dependence in basic ADL, subjective QOL, and subjective sense of low economic status. After adjusting for the effects of age, sex, and basic ADL, subjective sense of low economic status was closely associated with depression in community-living elderly people in all three communities in Asia. In conclusion, absolute and objective economic status is an important contributing factor to depressive state or psychosocial deterioration, however, we should pay more attention to the roles of perception of low economic status in determining depressive state in community-dwelling elderly people.
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