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Psychosocial stressors and depression at a Swedish primary health care centre. A gender perspective study

Ranja Strömberg1*, Lars G Backlund1 and Monica Löfvander12

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Family and Community Medicine, Department of Neurobiology, Caring Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Alfred Nobels allé 12, SE-12183 Huddinge, Sweden

2 Center for Clinical Research Dalarna, Falun, Sweden

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BMC Family Practice 2011, 12:120  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-120

Published: 2 November 2011



Psychosocial stress may account for the higher prevalence of depression in women and in individuals with a low educational background. The aim of this study was to analyse the association between depression and socio-demographic data, psychosocial stressors and lifestyle circumstances from a gender perspective in a relatively affluent primary care setting.


Patients, aged 18- 75 years, visiting a drop-in clinic at a primary care health centre were screened with Beck's Depression Inventory (BDI). The physicians used also targeted screening with BDI. A questionnaire on socio-demographic data, psychosocial stressors and use of alcohol and tobacco was distributed. Among patients, who scored BDI ≥10, DSM-IV-criteria were used to diagnose depression. Of the 404 participants, 48 men and 76 women were diagnosed with depression. The reference group consisted of patients with BDI score <10, 187 men and 93 women. Age-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) as being depressed were calculated for the psychosocial stressors and lifestyle circumstances, separately for men and women. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to determine the age-adjusted main effect models for men and women.


The same three psychosocial stressors: feeling very stressed, perceived poor physical health and being dissatisfied with one's family situation were associated with depression equally in men and women. The negative predictive values of the main effect models in men and women were 90.7% and 76.5%, respectively. Being dissatisfied with one's work situation had high ORs in both men and women. Unemployment and smoking were associated with depression in men only.


Three questions, frequently asked by physicians, which involve patient's family and working situation as well as perceived stress and physical health, could be used as depression indicators in early detection of depression in men and women in primary health care.