The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) is frequently used in epidemiological surveys to screen for depression, especially among older adults. This article addresses the problem of non-completion of a short form of the CES-D (CESD-10) in a mailed survey of 73- to 78-year-old women enrolled in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Completers of the CESD-10 had more education, found it easier to manage on available income and reported better physical and mental health. The Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) scores for non-completers were intermediate between those for women classified as depressed and not depressed using the CESD-10. Indicators of depression had an inverted U-shaped relationship with the number of missing CESD-10 items and were most frequent for women with two to seven items missing. Future research should pay particular attention to the level of missing data in depression scales and report its potential impact on estimates of depression.
International Journal of Aging & Human Development Vol. 57, Issue 1, p. 37-54