Depression and diabetes in the remote Torres Strait Islands

Sean Taylor, Robyn McDermott, Fintan Thompson, Kim Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Issue addressed: Diabetes is associated with significant depression, which can result in poorer clinical outcomes, including increased mortality. Little is known about the prevalence of depression among Torres Strait Islander adults with diabetes. Methods: Self-reported depression was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-9 translated into Torres Strait Creole, and associations with socioeconomic, behavioural and clinical indicators in Torres Strait Islander adults with diabetes in five remote Torres Strait Islands were examined. Results: Seventy-three men and 115 women completed interviews. The median PHQ-9 score was 5.5 (IQR 0-7); 42% of respondents scored 0-4 (none-minimal), 46% scored 5-9 (mild) and 12% scored 10+ (moderate-severe). Mean HbA1c was 8.3% (67.4 mmol). HbA1c was not related to PHQ-9 scores (b = 0.20, P = 0.323), however exercise in hours (b = -0.34, P < 0.001) and screen time in hours (b = 0.11, P < 0.001) were significant predictors of depression after adjusting for other study variables. Conclusions: This sample of remote living Torres Strait Islanders reported relatively low rates of depression compared with national samples, and depression was not related to glycaemic control. Exercise and screen time were the strongest predictors of depression based on PHQ-9 scores. This represents an opportunity for health promotion. So what? These findings provide an indication of the health impact of physical activity in rural and remote communities. Local health and education services, councils and sporting bodies should work collaboratively to promote sustainable physical activity programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-66
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


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