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Age and birth cohort differences in the prevalence of common mental disorder in England: National Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys 1993–2007

  • Nicola Spiers (a1), Paul Bebbington (a2), Sally McManus (a3), Traolach S. Brugha (a1), Rachel Jenkins (a4) and Howard Meltzer (a5)...
Abstract
Background

There are concerns that the prevalence of mental disorder is increasing.

Aims

To determine whether the prevalence of common adult mental disorders has increased over time, using age–period–cohort analysis.

Method

The study consisted of a pseudocohort analysis of a sequence of three cross-sectional surveys of the English household population. The main outcome was common mental disorder, indicated by a score of 12 or above on the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R). Secondary outcomes were neurotic symptoms likely to require treatment, indicated by a CIS-R score of 18 or over, and individual subscale scores for fatigue, sleep problems, irritability and worry.

Results

There were 8670 participants in the 1993 survey, 6977 in the 2000 survey and 6815 in the 2007 survey. In men a significant increase in common mental disorder occurred between the cohort born in 1943–9 and that born in 1950–6 (odds ratio 1.4, 95% CI 1.1–1.9) but prevalence in subsequent cohorts remained largely stable. More extended increases in prevalence of sleep problems and mental disorders were observed in women, but not consistently across cohorts or measures.

Conclusions

We found little evidence that the prevalence of common mental disorder is increasing.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Nicola Spiers, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, 22–28 Princess Road West, Leicester LE1 6TP, UK. Email: nas6@le.ac.uk
Footnotes
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The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007 was commissioned by the National Health Service Information Centre for Health and Social Care, with funds from the Department of Health. The pseudocohort analysis was not funded.

Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Age and birth cohort differences in the prevalence of common mental disorder in England: National Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys 1993–2007

  • Nicola Spiers (a1), Paul Bebbington (a2), Sally McManus (a3), Traolach S. Brugha (a1), Rachel Jenkins (a4) and Howard Meltzer (a5)...
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