We analyzed data from a practice-based randomized controlled trial within 20 primary care practices located in greater New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh to determine whether persistent or worsening sleep disturbance plays a role in the outcomes of depression and suicidal ideation at 1 year in older adults with depression.
The study sample consisted of 599 adults aged 60 years and older meeting criteria for major depression or clinically significant minor depression. Longitudinal analysis via growth curve mixture modeling was carried out to classify patients as having worsening, persistent, or improving sleep over 1 year.
At 1-year follow-up, compared with patients with improving sleep, those with worsening sleep were more likely to have a diagnosis of major depression (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 28.60, 95% confidence interval (CI) 12.15 to 67.34), a diagnosis of clinically significant minor depression (aOR = 11.88, 95% CI 5.67 to 24.89), and suicidal ideation (aOR = 1.10, 1.005 to 1.199), and were half as likely to achieve remission (aOR = 0.52, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.57). Patients with persistent sleep disturbance showed similar but attenuated results.
Older primary care patients with depression who exhibit worsening or persistent sleep disturbance were at increased risk for persistent depression and suicidal ideation 1 year later. The pattern of sleep disturbance over time may be an important signal for exploration by primary care physicians of depression and suicidal ideation among older adults with depression.

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