Marriage as a social tie in the relation of depressive symptoms attributable to air pollution exposure among the elderly

Hyunmin Kim, Jaelim Cho, Oluwaseyi Isehunwa, Juhwan Noh, Young Noh, Sung Soo Oh, Sang Baek Koh, Changsoo Kim

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Air pollution is a risk factor for depression or depressive symptoms. However, few studies have examined an effect modifier as a protective factor against depressive symptoms associated with air pollution, including social support. Notably, less is known about a married relationship in the association between exposure to air pollution and depressive symptoms among the elderly. Methods: This study included 2122 marrieds and 607 non-marrieds, recruited in 2014–2017 from different regions of South Korea. Depressive symptoms were measured by the Korean version of the Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form (SGDS-K). After adjustment for potential confounders using propensity score of being assigned to the marrieds, we examined the extent of whether the effects of exposure to air pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, and NO2) on depressive symptoms were different between marrieds and non-marrieds. Subgroup analyses by gender and residence area were also performed. Results: Marrieds than non-marrieds were less likely to have depressive symptoms and had smaller SGDS-K associated with increased exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations, respectively. After stratification of subjects by gender and residence area, the interaction term appeared to be significant among men and the non-metropolitan group, indicating the protective effect of married relationships on depressive symptoms attributable to air pollution exposure in them. Limitations: Although we adjusted the propensity score, our findings might be confounded by the contextual effect associated with married relationships. Conclusions: A married relationship, as a social tie, may attenuate the effect of exposure to air pollution on depressive symptoms among the elderly. Nonetheless, additional research is worthwhile to explore the extent of other social relationships in the association between air pollution exposure and depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-131
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant of the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number: HI18C1629 ) and a grant of the Korea Ministry of Environment as a part of the Environmental Health Action Program (grant number: 2014001360002 ).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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