Background. This paper describes the Household Survey from the National Survey of Psychiatric Morbidity. This covered a sample drawn at random from the population of Britain, with the exception of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
Methods. The Postcode Address file was used as the sampling frame. Nearly 13000 adults aged 16–65 were selected for interview, of whom 10108 (79·4%) were successfully interviewed. Eight per cent could not be contacted and 13% refused interview. Psychiatric assessment was carried out by lay interviewers using the CIS-R. Subjects were also screened for psychosis, and screen-positive individuals were examined by psychiatrists using SCAN.
Results. Sixteen per cent of subjects scored above the standard cut-off of 12 on the CIS-R. The overall 1-week prevalence of neurotic disorder was 12·3% in males and 19·5% in females. Unmarried and post-marital groups had high rates of disorder, as did single parents and people living on their own. Respondents in Social Class I had notably lower rates of neurotic disorder than the remainder of the sample. Unemployment was strongly associated with disorder. Subjects living in urban areas had a higher overall prevalence, but there was no significant variation by region. Black respondents had higher rates of disorders that were entirely explained by their age, family type and social class. Individual neurotic disorders were all significantly commoner in women, with the exception of panic disorder. The 1-year prevalence of functional psychoses was 4 per 1000, with no sex difference. Alcohol and drug dependence was considerably more prevalent in men.
Conclusions. For the first time, the survey provides data on the prevalence and correlates of psychiatric disorder on a nationwide sample that can be used to inform equitable and effective national psychiatric services.
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