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Profiles of activity engagement and depression trajectories as COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed.

Chia, J. L., Hartanto, A., & Tov, W.



Given elevated depression rates since the onset of the pandemic and potential downstream implications, this research examined the association between activity engagement and depression among middle-aged and older adults postlockdown. This study aimed to (a) identify activity engagement profiles among middle-aged and older adults, (b) understand factors associated with profile memberships, and (c) compare depression trajectories across profiles as COVID-19 restrictions eased over 16 months in Singapore. This longitudinal study involved 6,568 middle-aged and older adults. Latent growth analysis was first conducted to obtain estimates of depression trajectories for each individual. Latent profile analysis was then conducted to identify different activity profiles. Finally, profile characteristics and depression trajectories across these different profiles were compared. Results indicated four profiles that varied in social and physical activity. Although digital activity was negatively associated with depression at baseline, it did not explain depression trajectories as restrictions eased. Over time, depression decreased for all profiles; however, those who were inactive on all activities except digital contact tended to experience more persistent symptoms, compared with those who were highly engaged in physical and outdoor activities. Individuals who were only active digitally tended to experience more prepandemic negative affect, were more introverted and neurotic, less open, agreeable, and conscientious, and had worse health and mobility, lower income, and lower education. Findings highlight how imprecise conceptualizations of activity engagement may obscure subtle activity engagement-depression relations.

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