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Using Skype to Beat the Blues: Longitudinal Data from a National Representative Sample.

Teo AR, Markwardt S, Hinton L. Using Skype to Beat the Blues: Longitudinal Data from a National Representative Sample. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 1; 27(3):254-262.

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OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to determine whether use of certain types of online communication technology is associated with subsequent depressive symptoms. DESIGN: Nationally representative, population-based prospective cohort. SETTING: Data were obtained from the 2012 and 2014 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). PARTICIPANTS: 1,424 community-residing older adults (mean age, 64.8) in the United States. MEASUREMENTS: We examined associations between use of four communication technologies (email, social networks, video chat, and instant messaging) in 2012 and depressive symptoms (eight-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale) at two-year follow-up. RESULTS: 564 participants (39.6%) did not use any communication technologies, 314 (22.1%) used email only, and 255 (17.9%) used video chat (e.g., Skype). Compared to non-users (13.1%, 95% CI: 9.5-16.7%) or those who used only email (14.3%, 95% CI: 10.1-18.5%), users of video chat had approximately half the probability of depressive symptoms (6.9%, 95% CI: 3.5-10.3%, Wald Chi test, Chi = 13.82, p? < 0.001; 7.6%, 95% CI: 3.6-11.6, Wald Chi test, Chi = 13.56, p? < 0.001). Use of email, social media, and instant messaging were not associated with a lower risk of depression. CONCLUSIONS: Older adults who use video chat such as Skype, but not other common communication technologies, have a lower risk of developing depression.

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