The relationship of preparation for future care to depression and anxiety in older primary care patients at 2-year follow-up

Silvia Sörensen, Wingyun Mak, Benjamin Chapman, Paul R. Duberstein, Jeffrey M. Lyness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Preparation for future care needs has been hypothesized to help older adults adjust to inevitable life and health transitions and thereby decrease the likelihood of developing depression or anxiety. METHODS: A total of 190 primary care patients aged 65 years or more completed semistructured research interviews and mail-back surveys at study intake and 2 years later. Interviews included the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Clinical Anxiety Scale and a measure of preparation for future care. Multiple regression analyses were used to determine the independent association of preparation for future care at intake with depression and anxiety severity at 2-year follow-up. RESULTS: Patients who had made more concrete plans at intake were less likely to meet criteria for depression diagnosis at follow-up. They also had lower anxiety severity scores. Patients who had avoided thinking about future care needs had greater depression symptom severity at follow-up. Findings were independent of potential confounds, including illness burden. CONCLUSIONS: Failure to prepare for future care is a novel putative risk marker for depression and anxiety in older adulthood. Clinicians should be aware that the lack of care planning and frank avoidance may pose a risk for depression and anxiety older their patients. Future research should explore the mechanisms of care planning's effects on subsequent mood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-894
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Decision making
  • aging
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • future orientation
  • long-term care planning
  • primary care


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