Introduction: Rural residents are at higher risk for a depressive disorder than their non-rural counterparts. Recent research has indicated that co-morbidities are also associated with depression. Health service deficits (HSDs) is an analytic concept that facilitates the examination of how a population uses health services relevant to their condition. A HSD is present when, over the preceding 12 months, an individual has had no health insurance, no specified health care provider, deferred medical care due to cost, or did not have a routine medical exam. Research has shown a high prevalence of HSDs in populations with individual chronic conditions. No study that we know of has examined if there is an association between the constellation of chronic conditions of depression and the co-morbidities of asthma, arthritis, and diabetes, with HSDs. Methods: 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) data were analyzed to identify important dimensions of the epidemiology of depression by ascertaining whether there were differences in the prevalence of health service deficits in rural versus non-rural adults with depression and at least one additional chronic disease (arthritis, asthma, or diabetes). Data analyses entailed both bivariate and multivariate techniques. All analyses were performed on weighted data. Results: Logistic regression analysis performed using the presence of at least one HSD as the dependent variable yielded that for US adults with lifetime depression those who were African American, Hispanic and other/multiracial in comparison to Caucasian had higher odds of having at least one health service deficit. Low socioeconomic status (SES) and middle SES in comparison to high SES were also risk factors for US adults with lifetime depression having at least one HSD. Rural residency in comparison to non-rural residency also emerged as an independent risk factor (for US adults with lifetime depression having at least one HSD. Chronic disease, however, emerged as protective against US adults with lifetime depression having at least one health service deficit. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that race/ethnicity, SES, and rural residency are important predictors of health service deficits for individuals with a lifetime diagnosis of depression while having one or more chronic conditions for these same individuals was protective.
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