PhD-defense Hanna Birkbak Hovaldt, Department of Psychology – University of Copenhagen

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PhD-defense Hanna Birkbak Hovaldt, Department of Psychology


Hanna Birkbak Hovaldt


"Social relations and depression among older adults with dual sensory loss in Denmark"

Prior to the defence, copies of the dissertation are available for reading at the Faculty Library of Social Sciences, Gothersgade 140, Copenhagen K.

Time and venue:

Monday, December 10, 2018 at 1 pm.

The University of Copenhagen, Centre for Health and Society, Øster Farimagsgade 5, room 18.01.11, 1353 Copenhagen K.

Kindly note that the defence will start precisely at the announced time.

Assessment committee:

  • Professor Amy Horowitz, PhD, Graduate School of Social Service, Fordham University, New York, USA
  • Professor Per-Olof Östergren, MD, PhD, Division of Social Medicine and Global Health, University of Lund, Sweden
  • Chairperson: Associate Professor Thomas William Teasdale, Fil.Dr. Dr.Med.Sci., Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


Social isolation and poor mental health are potential consequences of dual sensory loss. However, little is known about the social networks of persons with dual sensory loss and their experience of the social relations as well as the validity of standardized mental health measures among persons with dual sensory loss.

The aim of this thesis was therefore to investigate the social relations of older adults with dual sensory loss and the validity of a standardized depression measure in this population.

The primary source of empirical data was a questionnaire survey in a national sample of persons with dual sensory loss aged 50+ years. Different relations seemed to serve different purposes. Support staff and children were important regarding frequency of social contact, instrumental, and emotional support. An 8-item version of the Major Depression Inventory was found to be construct valid for all and have acceptable reliability for most persons with dual sensory loss. However, there was no evidence for an association between severity of sensory losses with frequency of contacts, social support, relational strain, or validity of the Major Depression Inventory.