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Date of Graduation


Degree Type

Capstone Project (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Jonathon W. Gietzen MS PA-C


Introduction: Depression affects 7-12% of men and 20-25% of women in the United States. It is both a transient and permanent disease with many variants. It also can be difficult to diagnose due to its variable nature. Access to diagnosis and therapy for depression is only as good as patients' medical access to it. Health care costs and medications costs are rising in this country and may make it difficult for low income individuals to seek medical intervention. This problem could become more prevalent as the 2004 Census indicates a rise in poverty and a reduction of the medically insured.

Purpose and Hypothesis: Some clinicians suspect there is a correlation between depression and economic level and raises questions relating to its epidemiology. The purpose of this research was to come to a greater understanding about this relationship. The hypothesis was: There is a higher incidence of depressive disorders amongst individuals living below the poverty level.

Methods: A survey that pertained to yearly income and used the 9 question Personal Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) depression screening system, a questionnaire that has been validated in multiple situations, was introduced the public at a market in Eugene Oregon on 2 separate occasions and collected 111 surveys.

Subject Analysis and Results: After excluding 7 surveys for missing vital information, subjects were determined to be depressed by their PHQ-9 score and were. divided into groups depending on whether they were below or above the poverty level, determined by federal guidelines. Of the depressed subjects, 2 were living below poverty and 8 were living above it. The severity of the PHQ-9 depression score was 14 SD ±4.243 (95% CI 38.119) for poverty stricken individuals and 19.5 SD ±6.928 (95% cr 5.792) for non-poverty. The subjects who were depressed in the past, but not currently had an increase of 12.333 SD ±4.441 (95% CI 9.264) in thousands of dollars of income per year.

Conclusions: The data collected seems inconclusive as there were not enough depressed, low income subjects to make a statistically significant judgment. The data that was significant showed a higher level of severity and incidence of depression amongst non-poverty subjects but subjects who were rid of depression had an increase in their yearly income. As the data is conflicting, more research is needed with a higher subject population to make a more definitive decision on the correlation of income and mood.


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