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Heather Woods-Fry, Nathalie Duponsel, Walter Wittich, Marie-Chantal Wanet-Defalque, Olga Overbury; Barriers to Vision Rehabilitation: The Story of Depression. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):395.
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The Montreal Barriers to Vision Rehabilitation Study focuses on the demographic and psychological characteristics that may affect visually impaired people in their seeking and utilization of rehabilitation services. In general, study participants are identified as belonging to one of three groups: those who are unaware of rehabilitation services, those who are aware but choose not to avail themselves of the services, and those who have received vision rehabilitation. The purpose of this specific investigation was to focus on psychological characteristics, particularly depression, and their relation to this awareness and service utilization status.
To date, 707 study participants, ranging in ages of 26-100, have undergone a structured interview to ascertain relevant demographic information. They have also responded to a number of psychological questionnaires, including the Visual Function Index (VF-14), Brief COPE, and CES Depression Scale. During the interview, respondents’ permission was requested to access their agency files if they had sought rehabilitation services in the past.
Overall, 54% of study participants had received rehabilitation services, 32% were unaware and 13% had decided not to utilize these services. Of the total sample, 33% show evidence of significant depressive symptoms. Additionally, individuals who were not aware of rehabilitation services, scored higher on the depression scale than those who had received services, F(2,590)= 3.17, P=.043. Of those who had depressive symptoms and had received rehabilitation services, only 28% had been told that psychological services could be provided at the agency. Depressive symptoms were also correlated with the Brief COPE (R= -.134, P= .002) and VF-14 scores (R= -.23, P= .000).
The present study demonstrates that individuals with acquired visual impairments are at risk for depression, more so if they have not sought rehabilitation services. Unfortunately, few of those who received vision rehabilitation were informed of psychological services that may have been provided at the agency. Clearly, eye-care and rehabilitation professionals must be made more aware of this at risk population.
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