The effects of environmental context and personal resources on depressive symptomatology in older age: A test of the Lawton model

C. P.M. Knipscheer*, M. I. Broese Van Groenou, G. J.F. Leene, A. T.F. Beekman, D. J.H. Deeg

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study examines the environmental and psychosocial determinants of depression in older adults. Based on Lawton's environmental docility thesis, the question is posed: is the strong association between functional limitations and depressive symptomatology affected when environmental conditions, objective and subjective efficacy, and docile or proactive behaviour are taken into account. Data were used from LASA (the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam), a national survey of the population between 55 and 85 years of age, stratified by age and sex. Hierarchical regression analyses were performed on the data of 2,981 respondents. Empirical support was found for the extended Lawton model, including both environmental, efficacy and behavioural factors. In particular, living in a more urbanised area, not being able to perform heavy household tasks, having a low self-efficacy, not feeling safe, receiving help from others and having few social contacts within the neighbourhood, increase depressive symptoms in general but, in particular, when combined with lower functional status. It is concluded that both being able and feeling able to influence one's environment increases proactive behaviour and decreases depressive symptomatology in older adults with low functional status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-202
Number of pages20
JournalAgeing and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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