Handgrip strength and depression among 34,129 adults aged 50 years and older in six low- and middle-income countries

Garcia Ashdown-Franks, Brendon Stubbs, Ai Koyanagi, Felipe Schuch, Joseph Firth, Nicola Veronese, Davy Vancampfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Handgrip strength is a simple and inexpensive marker of health and mortality risk. It presents an ideal risk-stratifying method for use in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). There are, however, no population-based studies investigating the associations between handgrip strength and depression in LMICs. We aimed to assess these associations among community-dwelling middle-aged and older adults using nationally representative data from six LMICs.

METHOD: Cross-sectional data on individuals aged ≥ 50 years from the World Health Organization's Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health were analyzed. Depression was based on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Weak handgrip strength was defined as < 30 kg for men and < 20 kg for women using the average value of two handgrip measurements of the dominant hand. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was conducted.

RESULTS: The sample included 34,129 individuals (62.4 ± 16.0 years; 52.1% female). The prevalence of weak handgrip strength and depression were 47.4% and 6.2%, respectively. Individuals with weak handgrip strength had a higher prevalence of depression than those without this condition (8.8% vs. 3.8%; p < 0.001). Across all countries, after adjustment for potential confounders, weak handgrip strength was associated with a 1.45 (95%CI = 1.12-1.88) times higher odds for depression, although some between-country differences were noted.

DISCUSSION: Weaker handgrip strength is associated with higher odds for depression in LMICs. Future research should seek to establish the predictive value of this inexpensive measure for clinical use. Furthermore, interventional studies should examine if muscular strength can be a target of resistance-training interventions to address depressive symptoms in low-resourced settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-454
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date17 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019


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