Defining subgroups of low socioeconomic status women at risk for depressive symptoms: The importance of perceived stress and cumulative risks

J.E.B. van der Waerden*, C. Hoefnagels, C.M.H. Hosman, M.W.J. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Most disadvantaged women are exposed to risk factors for depression, but not all necessarily have an identical risk for this mental health problem. A better prediction of which low socioeconomic status (SES) women are most at risk for depressive symptoms can help target preventive interventions at high-risk subgroups most in need of support. Aims: Exploring which demographic, socioeconomic and psychological risk factors are associated with self-reported depressive symptoms in a sample of low-SES women and whether the number of risk factors might expose them to an accumulated risk. Methods: Between April 2005 and November 2007, 519 disadvantaged women from urban neighbourhoods in Maastricht, a southern Dutch city, participated in a cross-sectional survey on stress and depressive symptoms. Results: Lower education levels, no current employment and lower net monthly family incomes were socioeconomic risk factors associated with higher scores for depressive symptoms. The psychological risk factor perceived stress' had the highest explained variance and was most strongly associated with depressive symptoms. Women exposed to multiple risk factors across domains had a cumulated risk for depressive symptomatology. Conclusion: Low-SES women who seem most eligible for targeted preventive action are those with cumulative risks. Depression prevention strategies for this population may benefit from focusing on perceived stress since this is an important modifiable risk factor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-782
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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