Racial ethnic disparities in functional limitations and depression symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Hui Liew University of Nebraska Kearney
Keywords: Comorbidities, functional limitations, depressive symptoms, seemingly unrelated regression, COVID-19 concern, delayed care.


Purpose: This study seeks to examine how the impacts of physical and mental comorbidities and functional limitations on depressive symptoms vary by the major racial ethnic groups (i.e. Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics).

Methods: The empirical work of this is based on the United States using data from the 2020 Health and Retirement Study (HRS) COVID-10 Project.

Results: Findings suggest that physical and mental comorbid conditions, functional limitations and depressive symptoms co-occur more commonly than expected for all racial ethnic groups. Females fare worse than males in terms of functional imitations (for all racial ethnic groups) and depressive symptoms (Whites only). Education has protective effects on both functional limitations and depressive symptoms. The extent of COVID-19 concern and delayed care on the number of depressive symptoms differ across racial ethnic groups.

Conclusion: Findings from this study will also serve as a guide to policymakers and practitioners when they develop an integrated treatment and screening mechanisms for physical comorbidities and cognitive functioning.