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Cohabitation patterns among patients with severe psychiatric disorders in the entire Danish population

  • A. F. Thomsen (a1), M. Olsbjerg (a2), P. K. Andersen (a2) and L. V. Kessing (a1)



Assortative mating has been demonstrated in mental disorders but the extent of cohabitation between patients with clinically diagnosed psychiatric disease has been poorly explored.


We conducted a register-based study of all Danes between 18 and 70 years of age in a 13-year observational period, linking data on individuals' contacts with psychiatric services with data on individuals' cohabitation status. Two different Poisson regression analyses were performed: the first comparing the rates of commencing cohabitation with a psychiatric patient between individuals, depending on whether the individuals themselves had, or did not have, a psychiatric diagnosis; the second comparing the incidence rates of psychiatric diagnoses for individuals cohabitating with psychiatric patients with the similar rates for individuals living with unaffected cohabitants.


In total, 159 929 (5.0%) out of 3 204 633 individuals were given a psychiatric diagnosis during the study period. Diagnosed individuals had an overall rate ratio (RR) of commencing cohabitation with a psychiatric patient of 1.95 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.90–2.00] for women and 1.65 (95% CI 1.61–1.69) for men, when compared with unaffected individuals. The overall RR of receiving a psychiatric diagnosis while cohabitating with a psychiatric patient was 2.40 (95% CI 2.31–2.49) for women and 2.91 (95% CI 2.81–3.01) for men, when compared with those cohabitating with unaffected individuals. Individuals with schizophrenia and men with bipolar disorder had the highest RR of commencing cohabitation with a cohabitant with a similar diagnosis.


Cohabitation among individuals with severe psychiatric disorders is increased. This has implications for research and for the clinical management of patients.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Professor L. V. Kessing, M.D., D.MSc. Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, University Hospital of Copenhagen, Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark. (Email:


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