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Disease burden and mental health system capacity: WHO Atlas study of 117 low- and middle-income countries

  • Ryan McBain (a1), Carmel Salhi (a1), Jodi E. Morris (a2), Joshua A. Salomon (a1) and Theresa S. Betancourt (a3)...

Abstract

Background

Treatment coverage for mental disorders ranges from less than 10% to more than 90% across low- and middle-income (LAMI) countries. Studies have yet to examine whether the capacity of mental health systems might be adversely affected by the burdens of unrelated conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

Aims

To examine whether the magnitude of disease burden from communicable, perinatal, maternal and nutritional conditions - commonly referred to as Group 1 diseases - is inversely associated with mental health system capacity in LAMI countries.

Method

Multiple regression analyses were undertaken using data from 117 LAMI countries included in the 2011 World Health Organization (WHO) Mental Health Atlas. Capacity was defined in terms of human resources and infrastructure. Regressions controlled for effects of political stability, government health expenditures, income inequality and neuropsychiatric disease burden.

Results

Higher Group 1 disease burden was associated with fewer psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses in the mental health sector, as well as reduced numbers of out-patient facilities and psychiatric beds in mental hospitals and general hospitals (t= −2.06 to −7.68, P < 0.05).

Conclusions

Evidence suggests that mental health system capacity in LAMI countries may be adversely affected by the magnitude of their Group 1 disease burden.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Ryan McBain, Harvard School of Public Health, 651 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Email: rmcbain@hsph.harvard.edu

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes

References

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Disease burden and mental health system capacity: WHO Atlas study of 117 low- and middle-income countries

  • Ryan McBain (a1), Carmel Salhi (a1), Jodi E. Morris (a2), Joshua A. Salomon (a1) and Theresa S. Betancourt (a3)...
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