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Background: There is a lack of information about the factors that affect depression in hospitalized geriatric patients with malnutrition. We aimed to determine the risk and influencing factors of depression in these patients.

Methods: The prospective, descriptive study was conducted on 125 elderly patients with malnutrition in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018. The Mini Nutritional Assessment-short form was used in determining the nutritional statuses of the participants, and the Geriatric Depression Scale-short form was used for the status of depression.

Results: A negative relationship was found between nutritional status and risk of depression in the study (p: 0.000; r: -0.558). Depression was detected in 52.8% of the patients. 60.8% were women and 39.2% were men. It was also found that BMI scores, gender, marital status, level of education, lifestyle and location, the existence of chronic diseases, chronic medication use, hospital stay period, and mobilization affect the emergence and severity of depression in geriatric patients (p < 0.005). Multivariate regression analysis showed that increased risk of depression occurs with female gender (OR: 24.665, 95% CI: 5.83–104.34), marital status (OR = 11.97, 95% CI: 3.51–40.86), mobilization (OR: 9.52, 95% CI: 1.79–50.71) and malnutrition (OR = 0.49, 95% CI: 0.27–0.89).

Conclusions: Depression was frequent in elderly patients with malnutrition. Also, many factors (e.g. low BMI, female gender, mobilization etc.) affect it in hospital. Therefore, close follow-up of patients is important.