Older Armenians: Research by the American University of Armenia – 03-02-2006

Working with her faculty mentors, Zara Srapyan, MD, MPH (2003) has seen her thesis project published in the prominent British peer-reviewed journal Age and Ageing. Her research letter entitled “Health-related quality of life and depression among older people in Yerevan, Armenia: a comparative survey of retirement home and household residents aged 65 years old and over” is co-authored by College of Health Sciences faculty Haroutune K. Armenian, MD, DrPH and Varduhi Petrosyan, MS, PhD.

Dr. Srapyan summarized that her study found that “mental health related component of quality of life indicator was better among older people living in retirement homes in Yerevan than those living with their families. Moreover, the prevalence of depressive symptoms was slightly lower in the retirement home group compared to the household group.”

According to this research, older people living in retirement homes in Yerevan report more bodily pain and perceive themselves to be in poorer health than those who live in households. Differences in the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) between the two groups persisted even after adjusting for such factors as depression status and gender. Of greater concern, however, is that the prevalence of depressive symptoms among older residents of Yerevan (in both groups) was much higher than the prevalence of depression in nursing homes in the US.

As Interim Director of the Center of Health Services Research and Development (CHSR) Varduhi Petrosyan noted, “The high rate of depressive symptoms among the older people found in this Yerevan study were consistent with findings from the marzes, where CHSR had conducted household surveys in 2001 and in 2004. Taken together, these findings suggest that depression may be a seriously underreported and under treated problem among older Armenians”.

As AUA President and co-author Haroutune Armenian commented, “Efforts such as this are but one example of why AUA is proud of its academic programs and their research and development centers, which strive to provide students practical experience while impacting the community and helping to improve the lives of individuals.”

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