Factor analyses of the General Health Questionnaire have attempted to interpret the factors as measuring anxiety, depression and social functioning. Data from two large community surveys were used to conduct an unrotated principal components analysis of the 30-item General Health Questionnaire. A general factor, indicating overall severity of psychiatric disorder, accounted for around 30% of the variance. The next most important factor, accounting for about 8% of the variance, was bipolar with the positive (‘less than usual’) items of the General Health Questionnaire having positive coefficients and the negative (‘more than usual’) items having negative coefficients. It is suggested that the concepts of positive and negative mental health derive empirical support from the results and may prove to be a useful classification of dimensions of mental health in the community.
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