4179.0: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 - 2:59 PM

Abstract #20430

High depression rate in native American children

Kimberly Y.-Z. Forrest, PhD1, Marcy Leeds, PhD1, Adelle Williams, PhD1, and Yi Lin, PhD2. (1) Department of Allied Health, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock, PA 16057, 724 738-2258, kimberly.forrest@sru.edu, (2) International Institute for General Systems Studies

Depression in children, a serious mental health problem, can result in poor school performance. Few studies have evaluated how demographic factors influence depression in children. This study analyzed the data from the 1997 National Health Interview Survey in children aged 2 - 17 years to examine the prevalence of depression and its correlates.

Among 14,290 children participating in the survey, 9,547 were administered a questionnaire with depression information, and 9,464 (99%) provided valid data. The proportion of races and the prevalence of self-reported depression are shown below. Native American children had the highest depression rate (p< .001).


% Total

% Depression


% Total

% Depression




Native Americans



African Americans



Asian Americans









Depression increased as age increased, with a peak between 16-17 years (28.6%). Children from low income families (<$20,000) were more likely to report being depressed than children from families with higher incomes. The western region showed slightly higher depression rates. Multivariate analysis revealed that race was an independent risk factor for depression even after adjusting for age, family income, parents' education and geographic region. Compared to Asian American children who had the lowest depression rate, being Native American increased the risk of depression 2.6 fold (p < .001).

The results suggest an urgent need to improve mental health education, to screen for depression, and to provide necessary treatment for depression among Native American children.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant in this session will be able to: 1. Recognize the difference of depression prevalence between children of different races. 2. Describe the high depression prevalence and its correlates in Native American Children.

Keywords: Native Americans, Child/Adolescent Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 129th Annual Meeting of APHA