Background: In Sri Lanka, civilians in the Northern Province were affected by a long-term armed conflict that ended in 2009. This study aims to describe the prevalence of depression and its associated factors among adult patients attending primary care settings in the Northern Province in Sri Lanka.
Methods: We report data from a cross-sectional patient morbidity registry established in 16 primary care facilities (12 Divisional Hospitals and 4 Primary Medical Care Units) in four districts of the Northern Province. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was used to assess depression among all patients aged ≥18 years, between March and May 2013. A sample of 12,841 patient records was included in the analysis. A total score of ≥10 in the PHQ-9 was considered as major depression. Factors associated with major depression were tested using multivariable logistic regression analysis.
Results: The prevalence of major depression was 4.5% (95% CI: 4.1-4.9) and mild depression was 13.3% (95% CI:12.7-13.9). The major depression was significantly higher in females than males (5.1% vs. 3.6%) and among unpaid family workers (6.0%) than any other category who earned an income (varied between 1.2% and 3.2%). The prevalence was rising significantly with advancing age, and ranged from 0.3% in the youngest to 11.6% in the elderly. Multivariable regression analysis revealed that the females have a higher risk for major depression than males (OR = 1.4; 95% CI: 1.1-1.7). Older patients were more likely to be depressed than younger patients, OR (95% CI) were 4.9 (1.9-12.5), 5.6 (2.2-14.0), 5.7 (2.3-14.2) and 4.7 (1.8-11.9) for the age groups 25–34, 35–49, 50–64, and ≥65 years respectively, in contrast to 18–24 year group. Disability in walking (OR = 7.5; 95% CI: 5.8-9.8), cognition (OR = 4.5; 95% CI: 3.6-5.6), self-care (OR = 2.6; 95% CI: 1.7-4.0), seeing (OR = 2.3; 95% CI: 1.8-3.0), and hearing (OR = 2.0; 95% CI: 1.5-2.5) showed significant associations with depression.
Conclusions: Depression is a common issue at primary care settings in a post-conflict population, and the elders, women and persons with disability are at a greater risk. Strengthening capacity of primary care facilities and community mental health services is necessary for early detection and management.