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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Depression, suicidal ideation, and associated factors: a cross-sectional study in rural Haiti

Bradley H Wagenaar1, Ashley K Hagaman2, Bonnie N Kaiser13, Kristen E McLean4 and Brandon A Kohrt5*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

2 Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

3 Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

4 Department of Behavioral Sciences & Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

5 Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:149  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-149

Published: 19 September 2012

Abstract

Background

Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, there has been increased international attention to mental health needs throughout the country. The present study represents one of the first epidemiologic studies of depression symptomatology, suicidal ideation, and associated factors in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

Methods

We conducted a cross-sectional, zone-stratified household survey of 408 adults in Haiti’s Central Plateau. Depression symptomatology was assessed with a culturally-adapted Kreyòl version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were built using backward elimination, with the outcomes being continuous BDI scores and endorsing suicidal ideation, respectively.

Results

The mean BDI score was 20.4 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 19.3-21.5), and 6.13% (N = 25) of participants endorsed current suicidal ideation. Factors associated with BDI scores were: continuous age (adjusted beta [aβ]: 0.14, CI: 0.06-0.22), female gender (aβ: 2.1, CI: 0.18-4.0), suicidal ideation (aβ: 11.1, CI: 7.3-14.9), death in family (aβ: 2.7, CI: 0.57-4.9), and prior life-threatening illness (aβ: 2.6, CI: 0.77-4.5). Education was a risk factor for depression among women but not among men, and employment was a risk factor for both genders. Factors associated with endorsing suicidal ideation were: BDI score (ten point change) (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 2.5, CI: 1.7-3.6), lack of care if sick (aOR: 5.5, CI: 1.1-28.6), alcohol use (aOR: 3.3, CI: 1.3-8.2), and ever having been to a Vodou priest (aOR: 3.2, CI: 1.1-9.5).

Conclusions

A large proportion of Haiti’s Central Plateau may be experiencing high levels of depression symptomatology and/or current suicidal ideation. Screening could be conducted in biomedical, religious, and Vodou healing contexts. For prevention, poverty reduction and improved healthcare access are key elements. For treatment, general psychiatric services, psychosocial services for the medically ill and their families, and substance abuse interventions should be explored. Paradoxical associations related to education and employment require further exploration.