Journal article

The Kimberley assessment of depression of older Indigenous Australians: prevalence of depressive disorders, risk factors and validation of the KICA-dep scale

Aboriginal Australians Ageing Mental depression Mental health Australia Western Australia

This study aimed to develop a culturally acceptable and valid scale to assess depressive symptoms in older Indigenous Australians, to determine the prevalence of depressive disorders in the older Kimberley community, and to investigate the sociodemographic, lifestyle and clinical factors associated with depression in this population.


Cross-sectional survey of adults aged 45 years or over from six remote Indigenous communities in the Kimberley and 30% of those living in Derby, Western Australia. The 11 linguistic and culturally sensitive items of the Kimberley Indigenous Cognitive Assessment of Depression (KICA-dep) scale were derived from the signs and symptoms required to establish the diagnosis of a depressive episode according to the DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10 criteria, and their frequency was rated on a 4-point scale ranging from ‘never’ to ‘all the time’ (range of scores: 0 to 33). The diagnosis of depressive disorder was established after a face-to-face assessment with a consultant psychiatrist. Other measures included sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, and clinical history.


The study included 250 participants aged 46 to 89 years (mean±SD = 60.9±10.7), of whom 143 (57.2%) were women. The internal reliability of the KICA-dep was 0.88 and the cut-point 7/8 (non-case/case) was associated with 78% sensitivity and 82% specificity for the diagnosis of a depressive disorder. The point-prevalence of a depressive disorder in this population was 7.7%; 4.0% for men and 10.4% for women. Heart problems were associated with increased odds of depression (odds ratio = 3.3, 95% confidence interval = 1.2,8.8).


The KICA-dep has robust psychometric properties and can be used with confidence as a screening tool for depression among older Indigenous Australians. Depressive disorders are common in this population, possibly because of increased stressors and health morbidities.

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