Depression as a Comorbid Condition: A Descriptive Comparative Study

Judy Frain, Horng Shiuann Wu, Ling Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Studies analyzing depressive symptoms across chronic disease populations are limited. Our descriptive comparison investigation included two studies on life-limiting conditions: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and breast cancer. In both, depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). We found a mean depression score of 18.1 (± 11.8) overall (N = 243). Over half (54%) reported clinically significant depressive symptoms (CES-D ≥ 16); 26% reported severe depressive symptoms (CES-D > 24). Disease and years of education were predictors of depressive symptoms. Persons living with breast cancer showed significantly worse depressive symptoms than persons living with HIV (p < 0.0001). After adjusting for disease, fewer years of education predicted worse depressive symptoms (p < 0.0001). This study demonstrated common determinants of depressive symptoms in both disease populations, suggesting that underlying conditions known to be predictors of depression could be assessed to identify those at higher risk for depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1103
Number of pages7
JournalWestern Journal of Nursing Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • HIV
  • breast cancer
  • chronic conditions
  • depressive symptoms


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