Socioeconomic status and depressive symptoms: An individual-participant data meta-analysis on range restriction and measurement in the United States

Kevin M. Korous, Robert H. Bradley, Suniya Luthar, Longfeng Li, Roy Levy, Karina M. Cahill, Charles R. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: The association between socioeconomic status (SES) and depressive symptoms is well documented, yet less attention has been paid to the methodological factors contributing to between-study variability. We examined the moderating role of range restriction and the depressive-symptom measurement instrument used in estimating the correlation between components of SES and depressive symptoms. Methods: We conducted an individual participant data meta-analysis of nationally-representative, public-access datasets in the United States. We identified 123 individual datasets with a total of 1,655,991 participants (56.8 % female, mean age = 40.33). Results: The presence of range restriction was associated with larger correlations between income and depressive symptoms and with smaller correlations between years of education and depressive symptoms. The measurement instrument of depressive symptoms moderated the association for income, years of education, and occupational status/prestige. The Center for Epidemiological Studies–Depression scale consistently produced larger correlations. Higher measurement reliability was also associated with larger correlations. Limitations: This study was not a comprehensive review of all measurement instruments of depressive symptoms, focused on datasets from the United States, and did not examine the moderating role of sample characteristics. Discussion: Methodological characteristics, including range restriction of SES and instrument of depressive symptoms, meaningfully influence the observed magnitude of association between SES and depressive symptoms. Clinicians and researchers designing future studies should consider which instrument of depressive symptoms is suitable for their purpose and population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • Bias
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Measurement instrument
  • Meta-analysis
  • Range restriction
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Socioeconomic status and depressive symptoms: An individual-participant data meta-analysis on range restriction and measurement in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this