BACKGROUND This is the first report of results from the EURODEP Programme.
AIMS To assess the prevalence of depression judged suitable for intervention in randomised samples of those aged > or = 65 in nine European centres.
METHOD The GMS-AGECAT package.
RESULTS Differences in prevalence are apparent, 8.8% (Iceland) to 236% (Munich). When sub-cases and cases are added together, five high- and four low-scoring centres emerge. Women predominated over men. Proportions of sub-cases to cases revealed striking differences but did not explain prevalence. There was no constant association between prevalence and age. A meta-analysis (n = 13,808) gave an overall prevalence of 12.3%, 14.1% for women and 8.6% for men.
CONCLUSIONS Considerable variation occurs in the levels of depression across Europe, the cause for which is not immediately obvious. Case and sub-case levels taken together show greater variability, suggesting that it is not a matter of case/sub-case selection criteria, which were standardised by computer. Substantial levels of depression are shown but 62-82% of persons had no depressive level. Opportunities for treatment exist.