Trajectories of Depressive Symptoms Experienced by Older People: Effects of Time, Hurricane Sandy, and the Great Recession

Rachel Pruchno, Maureen Wilson-Genderson, Allison Heid, Francine Cartwright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine depressive symptom trajectories as a function of time and exposure to Hurricane Sandy, accounting for the effects of the Great Recession. Methods: We analyzed 6 waves of data from a 12-year panel using latent class growth models and multinomial logistic regression. Results: We identified 4 groups of people experiencing different trajectories of depressive symptoms. The groups differed on baseline characteristics (gender, age, education, income, race), history of diagnosed depression, and initial level of depressive symptoms. The group with the highest levels of depressive symptoms reported greater levels of peri-traumatic stress exposure to Hurricane Sandy. Discussion: Depressive symptoms increased as a function of the Great Recession, but exposure to Hurricane Sandy was not associated with subsequent increases in depressive symptoms for any of the 4 groups. People who consistently experienced high levels of depressive symptoms over time reported the highest levels of peri-traumatic stress during Hurricane Sandy. Findings highlight the importance of accounting for historical trends when studying the effects of disaster, identify people likely to be at risk during a disaster, and provide novel information about the causal relationship between exposure to disaster and depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)974-985
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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