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Brazilian multicentric study of psychiatric morbidity

Methodological features and prevalence estimates

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Naomar Almeida-Filho*
Instituto de Saúde Coletiva at the Federal University of Bahia and the National Research Council of Brazil (CNPq)
Jair De Jesus Mari
Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology at the Medical School of the Federal University of São Paulo, and the CNPq
Evandro Coutinho
Department of Epidemiology, National School of Public Health, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz
Josimar Farias França
Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Brasília
Jefferson Fernandes
Department of Neurology of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
Sérgio Baxter Andreoli
Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, Medical School of the Federal University of São Paulo
Ellis D'Arrigo Busnello
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
Professor N. Almeida-Filho, Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Rua Padre Feijo 29-4. Andar, Campus Canela, Salvador-Bahia, Brazil 40210-270



Psychiatric morbidity studies in developing countries have used diagnostic procedures of low reliability, without a clinical definition of caseness, producing descriptive data with limited application for mental health planning.


A two-stage cross-sectional design (with a sample size of 6476) was conducted to estimate the prevalence of DSM–III psychiatric diagnoses in three metropolitan areas of Brazil (Brasília, São Paulo and Porto Alegre). All subjects were screened for the presence of psychopathology with a 44-item instrument (the QMPA) and a subsample was selected for a psychiatric interview.


Age-adjusted prevalence of cases potentially in need of care ranged from 19% (São Paulo) to 34% (Brasília and Porto Alegre). Anxiety disorders comprised the highest prevalences (up to 18%). Alcoholism yielded the most consistent prevalence levels, around 8% in all sites. Depression showed great variation between areas: from less than 3% (São Paulo and Brasília) to 10% (Porto Alegre)


Overall prevalences were high in comparison with previous studies conducted in Brazil. A female excess of non-psychotic disorders (anxiety, phobias, somatisation and depression) and a male excess for alcoholism were consistently found.

Copyright © 1997 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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