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Objective: To investigate gender specific differences in the association between stressful life events (SLEs) and depression in Chinese adults aged 30-79 years. Methods: In the baseline survey during 2004-2008, the China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) recruited 512 891 men and women aged 30-79 years from 10 areas of China. Detailed information on SLEs, including demographic and socio-economic status, smoking, alcohol drinking and history of chronic disease, as well as depression symptoms and major depressive episodes (MDEs) in preceding 12 months, was collected by using standardized questionnaire. Multinomial logistic regression model was employed to estimate the relative risk ratio (RRR) and 95%CI of SLEs (3 categories, 10 items) on depression and the dose-response relationship between the number of SLEs experienced and depression. The interactions between gender and SLEs on depression were examined with likelihood ratio test. Results: Among the 512 891 participants, 35 085 (6.8%) reported family-related events, 5 972 (1.2%) reported finance-related events, and 4 453 (0.9%) reported other stressful life events. Females had a higher occurrence of family-related events, while males had a higher occurrence of finance-related and other events (all P-value <0.001). After adjusted for potential confounders, SLEs were significantly associated with MDEs (RRR=11.99, 95%CI: 10.49-13.71 for males; RRR=14.15, 95%CI: 12.97-15.43 for females), and with depressive symptoms (RRR=7.43, 95%CI: 6.94-7.95 for males; RRR=8.30, 95%CI: 7.91-8.72 for females). And the associations were stronger in females than in males (P for interaction=0.049). In the three categories of SLEs, family-related events showed stronger association in female (P for interaction <0.001), while no gender specific differences were observed for the other two categories (all P-value>0.05). Furthermore, the effect of the number of SLEs experienced increased in a dose-response manner on depressive symptoms and MDEs for both genders, but no gender specific differences were found. Conclusions: The gender modifies the association between stressful life events and depression in Chinese adults, and women experienced family-related events have a greater risk of depression. The more the stressful events experienced, the more likely to have depression.

Original publication




Journal article


Zhonghua Liu Xing Bing Xue Za Zhi

Publication Date





1449 - 1453


Cross-sectional studies, Depression, Gender difference, Stressful life events, Adult, Aged, Alcohol Drinking, Asian People, China, Chronic Disease, Depression, Depressive Disorder, Major, Female, Humans, Life Change Events, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Odds Ratio, Smoking, Social Class, Stress, Psychological, Surveys and Questionnaires