Effects of instrumental and psychological support on levels of depressive symptoms for hospitalized older adults

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Objectives: To explore the effects of four types of support (psychological support, instrumental support, supervision of instrumental support, and explanation of medical care) on the level of depressive symptoms among hospitalized older adults. Method: The sample consisted of 468 older adults admitted to the internal medicine units of a large tertiary care medical center in northern Israel. Respondents filled out self-report questionnaires upon admission and discharge. Information regarding severity of illness, chronic health status, and length of hospital stay was gathered from their medical records. Multivariate regression was used to test the association between the four types of caregiving support and depressive symptoms. Results: Psychological support from informal caregivers was found to be negatively related to depressive symptoms, and instrumental support to be positively related to depressive symptoms among respondents who were more independent in their functioning before the hospitalization. These relationships remained significant after controlling for previously-identified precursors of depressive symptoms: age, gender, education, widowhood, functional and cognitive status, severity of illness, co-morbidities, and length of hospital stay. Supervision of instrumental support and explanation of medical care were not related to depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Results of this study suggest that functional status, the kind of support, and the setting in which it is given are important in understanding the influence of informal support on the well-being of older adults. The potentially positive as well as negative consequences of various types of support in the hospital setting should be recognized and addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-653
Number of pages8
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • Depression
  • Life events
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Gerontology
  • Psychiatric Mental Health


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