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Vol. 76, No. 6, 2007
Issue release date: October 2007
Psychother Psychosom 2007;76:354–360

Increased 12-Month Prevalence Rates of Mental Disorders in Patients with Chronic Somatic Diseases

Härter M. · Baumeister H. · Reuter K. · Jacobi F. · Höfler M. · Bengel J. · Wittchen H.-U.
aDepartment of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Section of Clinical Epidemiology and Health Services Research, Freiburg University Medical Center, and bDepartment of Rehabilitation Psychology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, and cDepartment of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany

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Background: Although it is well established that chronic somatic diseases are significantly associated with a wide range of psychopathology, it remains unclear to what extent subjects with chronic somatic diseases are at increased risk of experiencing mental disorders. The present epidemiological study investigates age- and sex-adjusted 12-month prevalence rates of mental disorders in patients with cancer, and musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and respiratory tract diseases, based on comprehensive physicians’ diagnoses and compared with physically healthy probands. Methods: Prevalence rates were calculated from two large epidemiological surveys. These studies investigated inpatients and patients from the general population with cancer (n = 174) and musculoskeletal (n = 1,416), cardiovascular (n = 915) and respiratory tract diseases (n = 453) as well as healthy controls (n = 1,083). The prevalence rates were based on the Munich Composite International Diagnostic Interview, a standardized interview for the assessment of mental disorders. Results: Prevalence rates were very similar for inpatients (43.7%) and patients from the general population (42.2%). The adjusted odds ratios (OR) of patients with chronic somatic diseases were significantly elevated for mental disorders in comparison with healthy probands (OR: 2.2). Mood, anxiety and somatoform disorders were most frequent. The prevalence rates did not differ significantly between the somatic index diseases. The number of somatic diseases per patient had a higher association with mental disorders. Conclusions: There is a strong relationship between chronic somatic diseases and mental disorders. A future task is to improve the care of mental disorders in patients with chronic physical illness, specifically with multimorbid conditions.

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