Pet ownership and symptoms of depression: a prospective study of older adults

Sharpley, Christopher and Veronese, Nicola and Smith, Lee and López-Sánchez, Guillermo F. and Bitsika, Vicki and Demurtas, Jacopo and Celotto, Stefano and Noventa, Vania and Soysal, Pinar and Isik, Ahmet T. and Grabovac, Igor and Jackson, Sarah E. (2020) Pet ownership and symptoms of depression: a prospective study of older adults. Journal of Affective Disorders, 264. pp. 35-39. ISSN 1573-2517

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Background: This paper aims to examine associations between pet ownership and symptoms of depression in a large, population-based sample of older adults. Specifically, we tested whether: (i) people who report more depressive symptoms are more likely to own a pet; (ii) pet ownership protects against an increase in depressive symptoms over time; (iii) associations differ by symptom type. Methods: Data were drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, a longitudinal panel study of men and women aged 50 and older (n=7,617, 52.5% female). Pet ownership (dog/cat/other/none) was self-reported in 2010/11. Depressive symptoms were assessed in 2010/11 and 2016/17 using the 8-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale. We analysed total CES-D score and derived symptom subscales (depressed mood, anhedonia, somatic symptoms) in relation to pet ownership, adjusting for sociodemographic and health-related covariates. Results: A one-symptom increase in total CES-D score was associated with 7% increased odds of dog ownership (OR=1.07, 95% CI 1.03-1.11). Significant associations were observed between each subset of depressive symptoms and dog ownership, with models run on z-scores showing a slightly stronger association for symptoms of depressed mood (OR=1.13, 95% CI 1.06-1.21) compared with anhedonia (OR=1.10, 95% CI 1.04-1.17) or somatic symptoms (OR=1.10, 95% CI 1.03-1.18). Prospectively, no significant associations were found. Limitations: Self-reported data; small sample size for some pet categories. Conclusion: Among older adults in England, those with more depressive symptoms are more likely to own a dog, but pet ownership is not significantly associated with change in depressive symptoms over time.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Pet ownership, Older Adults, Depression, Depressive symptoms
Faculty: Faculty of Science & Engineering
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic User
Depositing User: Symplectic User
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2019 14:57
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2022 09:51

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