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There is a substantial proportion of patients who drop out of treatment before they receive minimally adequate care. They tend to have worse health outcomes than those who complete treatment. Our main goal is to describe the frequency and determinants of dropout from treatment for mental disorders in low-, middle-, and high-income countries.
Respondents from 13 low- or middle-income countries (N = 60 224) and 15 in high-income countries (N = 77 303) were screened for mental and substance use disorders. Cross-tabulations were used to examine the distribution of treatment and dropout rates for those who screened positive. The timing of dropout was examined using Kaplan–Meier curves. Predictors of dropout were examined with survival analysis using a logistic link function.
Dropout rates are high, both in high-income (30%) and low/middle-income (45%) countries. Dropout mostly occurs during the first two visits. It is higher in general medical rather than in specialist settings (nearly 60% v. 20% in lower income settings). It is also higher for mild and moderate than for severe presentations. The lack of financial protection for mental health services is associated with overall increased dropout from care.
Extending financial protection and coverage for mental disorders may reduce dropout. Efficiency can be improved by managing the milder clinical presentations at the entry point to the mental health system, providing adequate training, support and specialist supervision for non-specialists, and streamlining referral to psychiatrists for more severe cases.
Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is characterised by impulsive anger attacks that vary greatly across individuals in severity and consequence. Understanding IED subtypes has been limited by lack of large, general population datasets including assessment of IED. Using the 17-country World Mental Health surveys dataset, this study examined whether behavioural subtypes of IED are associated with differing patterns of comorbidity, suicidality and functional impairment.
IED was assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview in the World Mental Health surveys (n = 45 266). Five behavioural subtypes were created based on type of anger attack. Logistic regression assessed association of these subtypes with lifetime comorbidity, lifetime suicidality and 12-month functional impairment.
The lifetime prevalence of IED in all countries was 0.8% (s.e.: 0.0). The two subtypes involving anger attacks that harmed people (‘hurt people only’ and ‘destroy property and hurt people’), collectively comprising 73% of those with IED, were characterised by high rates of externalising comorbid disorders. The remaining three subtypes involving anger attacks that destroyed property only, destroyed property and threatened people, and threatened people only, were characterised by higher rates of internalising than externalising comorbid disorders. Suicidal behaviour did not vary across the five behavioural subtypes but was higher among those with (v. those without) comorbid disorders, and among those who perpetrated more violent assaults.
The most common IED behavioural subtypes in these general population samples are associated with high rates of externalising disorders. This contrasts with the findings from clinical studies of IED, which observe a preponderance of internalising disorder comorbidity. This disparity in findings across population and clinical studies, together with the marked heterogeneity that characterises the diagnostic entity of IED, suggests that it is a disorder that requires much greater research.
Previous work has identified associations between psychotic experiences (PEs) and general medical conditions (GMCs), but their temporal direction remains unclear as does the extent to which they are independent of comorbid mental disorders.
In total, 28 002 adults in 16 countries from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys were assessed for PEs, GMCs and 21 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) mental disorders. Discrete-time survival analyses were used to estimate the associations between PEs and GMCs with various adjustments.
After adjustment for comorbid mental disorders, temporally prior PEs were significantly associated with subsequent onset of 8/12 GMCs (arthritis, back or neck pain, frequent or severe headache, other chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and peptic ulcer) with odds ratios (ORs) ranging from 1.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1–1.5] to 1.9 (95% CI 1.4–2.4). In contrast, only three GMCs (frequent or severe headache, other chronic pain and asthma) were significantly associated with subsequent onset of PEs after adjustment for comorbid GMCs and mental disorders, with ORs ranging from 1.5 (95% CI 1.2–1.9) to 1.7 (95% CI 1.2–2.4).
PEs were associated with the subsequent onset of a wide range of GMCs, independent of comorbid mental disorders. There were also associations between some medical conditions (particularly those involving chronic pain) and subsequent PEs. Although these findings will need to be confirmed in prospective studies, clinicians should be aware that psychotic symptoms may be risk markers for a wide range of adverse health outcomes. Whether PEs are causal risk factors will require further research.
A substantial proportion of persons with mental disorders seek treatment from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professionals. However, data on how CAM contacts vary across countries, mental disorders and their severity, and health care settings is largely lacking. The aim was therefore to investigate the prevalence of contacts with CAM providers in a large cross-national sample of persons with 12-month mental disorders.
In the World Mental Health Surveys, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview was administered to determine the presence of past 12 month mental disorders in 138 801 participants aged 18–100 derived from representative general population samples. Participants were recruited between 2001 and 2012. Rates of self-reported CAM contacts for each of the 28 surveys across 25 countries and 12 mental disorder groups were calculated for all persons with past 12-month mental disorders. Mental disorders were grouped into mood disorders, anxiety disorders or behavioural disorders, and further divided by severity levels. Satisfaction with conventional care was also compared with CAM contact satisfaction.
An estimated 3.6% (standard error 0.2%) of persons with a past 12-month mental disorder reported a CAM contact, which was two times higher in high-income countries (4.6%; standard error 0.3%) than in low- and middle-income countries (2.3%; standard error 0.2%). CAM contacts were largely comparable for different disorder types, but particularly high in persons receiving conventional care (8.6–17.8%). CAM contacts increased with increasing mental disorder severity. Among persons receiving specialist mental health care, CAM contacts were reported by 14.0% for severe mood disorders, 16.2% for severe anxiety disorders and 22.5% for severe behavioural disorders. Satisfaction with care was comparable with respect to CAM contacts (78.3%) and conventional care (75.6%) in persons that received both.
CAM contacts are common in persons with severe mental disorders, in high-income countries, and in persons receiving conventional care. Our findings support the notion of CAM as largely complementary but are in contrast to suggestions that this concerns person with only mild, transient complaints. There was no indication that persons were less satisfied by CAM visits than by receiving conventional care. We encourage health care professionals in conventional settings to openly discuss the care patients are receiving, whether conventional or not, and their reasons for doing so.
The treatment gap between the number of people with mental disorders and the number treated represents a major public health challenge. We examine this gap by socio-economic status (SES; indicated by family income and respondent education) and service sector in a cross-national analysis of community epidemiological survey data.
Data come from 16 753 respondents with 12-month DSM-IV disorders from community surveys in 25 countries in the WHO World Mental Health Survey Initiative. DSM-IV anxiety, mood, or substance disorders and treatment of these disorders were assessed with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
Only 13.7% of 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI cases in lower-middle-income countries, 22.0% in upper-middle-income countries, and 36.8% in high-income countries received treatment. Highest-SES respondents were somewhat more likely to receive treatment, but this was true mostly for specialty mental health treatment, where the association was positive with education (highest treatment among respondents with the highest education and a weak association of education with treatment among other respondents) but non-monotonic with income (somewhat lower treatment rates among middle-income respondents and equivalent among those with high and low incomes).
The modest, but nonetheless stronger, an association of education than income with treatment raises questions about a financial barriers interpretation of the inverse association of SES with treatment, although future within-country analyses that consider contextual factors might document other important specifications. While beyond the scope of this report, such an expanded analysis could have important implications for designing interventions aimed at increasing mental disorder treatment among socio-economically disadvantaged people.
Traumatic events are common globally; however, comprehensive population-based cross-national data on the epidemiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the paradigmatic trauma-related mental disorder, are lacking.
Data were analyzed from 26 population surveys in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys. A total of 71 083 respondents ages 18+ participated. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview assessed exposure to traumatic events as well as 30-day, 12-month, and lifetime PTSD. Respondents were also assessed for treatment in the 12 months preceding the survey. Age of onset distributions were examined by country income level. Associations of PTSD were examined with country income, world region, and respondent demographics.
The cross-national lifetime prevalence of PTSD was 3.9% in the total sample and 5.6% among the trauma exposed. Half of respondents with PTSD reported persistent symptoms. Treatment seeking in high-income countries (53.5%) was roughly double that in low-lower middle income (22.8%) and upper-middle income (28.7%) countries. Social disadvantage, including younger age, female sex, being unmarried, being less educated, having lower household income, and being unemployed, was associated with increased risk of lifetime PTSD among the trauma exposed.
PTSD is prevalent cross-nationally, with half of all global cases being persistent. Only half of those with severe PTSD report receiving any treatment and only a minority receive specialty mental health care. Striking disparities in PTSD treatment exist by country income level. Increasing access to effective treatment, especially in low- and middle-income countries, remains critical for reducing the population burden of PTSD.
Although specific phobia is highly prevalent, associated with impairment, and an important risk factor for the development of other mental disorders, cross-national epidemiological data are scarce, especially from low- and middle-income countries. This paper presents epidemiological data from 22 low-, lower-middle-, upper-middle- and high-income countries.
Data came from 25 representative population-based surveys conducted in 22 countries (2001–2011) as part of the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys initiative (n = 124 902). The presence of specific phobia as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition was evaluated using the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview.
The cross-national lifetime and 12-month prevalence rates of specific phobia were, respectively, 7.4% and 5.5%, being higher in females (9.8 and 7.7%) than in males (4.9% and 3.3%) and higher in high- and higher-middle-income countries than in low-/lower-middle-income countries. The median age of onset was young (8 years). Of the 12-month patients, 18.7% reported severe role impairment (13.3–21.9% across income groups) and 23.1% reported any treatment (9.6–30.1% across income groups). Lifetime co-morbidity was observed in 60.5% of those with lifetime specific phobia, with the onset of specific phobia preceding the other disorder in most cases (72.6%). Interestingly, rates of impairment, treatment use and co-morbidity increased with the number of fear subtypes.
Specific phobia is common and associated with impairment in a considerable percentage of cases. Importantly, specific phobia often precedes the onset of other mental disorders, making it a possible early-life indicator of psychopathology vulnerability.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disability worldwide.
To examine the: (a) 12-month prevalence of DSM-IV MDD; (b) proportion aware that they have a problem needing treatment and who want care; (c) proportion of the latter receiving treatment; and (d) proportion of such treatment meeting minimal standards.
Representative community household surveys from 21 countries as part of the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys.
Of 51 547 respondents, 4.6% met 12-month criteria for DSM-IV MDD and of these 56.7% reported needing treatment. Among those who recognised their need for treatment, most (71.1%) made at least one visit to a service provider. Among those who received treatment, only 41.0% received treatment that met minimal standards. This resulted in only 16.5% of all individuals with 12-month MDD receiving minimally adequate treatment.
Only a minority of participants with MDD received minimally adequate treatment: 1 in 5 people in high-income and 1 in 27 in low-/lower-middle-income countries. Scaling up care for MDD requires fundamental transformations in community education and outreach, supply of treatment and quality of services.
Although there is robust evidence linking childhood adversities (CAs) and an increased risk for psychotic experiences (PEs), little is known about whether these associations vary across the life-course and whether mental disorders that emerge prior to PEs explain these associations.
We assessed CAs, PEs and DSM-IV mental disorders in 23 998 adults in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. Discrete-time survival analysis was used to investigate the associations between CAs and PEs, and the influence of mental disorders on these associations using multivariate logistic models.
Exposure to CAs was common, and those who experienced any CAs had increased odds of later PEs [odds ratio (OR) 2.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9–2.6]. CAs reflecting maladaptive family functioning (MFF), including abuse, neglect, and parent maladjustment, exhibited the strongest associations with PE onset in all life-course stages. Sexual abuse exhibited a strong association with PE onset during childhood (OR 8.5, 95% CI 3.6–20.2), whereas Other CA types were associated with PE onset in adolescence. Associations of other CAs with PEs disappeared in adolescence after adjustment for prior-onset mental disorders. The population attributable risk proportion (PARP) for PEs associated with all CAs was 31% (24% for MFF).
Exposure to CAs is associated with PE onset throughout the life-course, although sexual abuse is most strongly associated with childhood-onset PEs. The presence of mental disorders prior to the onset of PEs does not fully explain these associations. The large PARPs suggest that preventing CAs could lead to a meaningful reduction in PEs in the population.
This is the first cross-national study of intermittent explosive disorder (IED).
A total of 17 face-to-face cross-sectional household surveys of adults were conducted in 16 countries (n = 88 063) as part of the World Mental Health Surveys initiative. The World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI 3.0) assessed DSM-IV IED, using a conservative definition.
Lifetime prevalence of IED ranged across countries from 0.1 to 2.7% with a weighted average of 0.8%; 0.4 and 0.3% met criteria for 12-month and 30-day prevalence, respectively. Sociodemographic correlates of lifetime risk of IED were being male, young, unemployed, divorced or separated, and having less education. The median age of onset of IED was 17 years with an interquartile range across countries of 13–23 years. The vast majority (81.7%) of those with lifetime IED met criteria for at least one other lifetime disorder; co-morbidity was highest with alcohol abuse and depression. Of those with 12-month IED, 39% reported severe impairment in at least one domain, most commonly social or relationship functioning. Prior traumatic experiences involving physical (non-combat) or sexual violence were associated with increased risk of IED onset.
Conservatively defined, IED is a low prevalence disorder but this belies the true societal costs of IED in terms of the effects of explosive anger attacks on families and relationships. IED is more common among males, the young, the socially disadvantaged and among those with prior exposure to violence, especially in childhood.
Although mental disorders are significant predictors of educational attainment throughout the entire educational career, most research on mental disorders among students has focused on the primary and secondary school years.
The World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys were used to examine the associations of mental disorders with college entry and attrition by comparing college students (n = 1572) and non-students in the same age range (18–22 years; n = 4178), including non-students who recently left college without graduating (n = 702) based on surveys in 21 countries (four low/lower-middle income, five upper-middle-income, one lower-middle or upper-middle at the times of two different surveys, and 11 high income). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence and age-of-onset of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, behavioral and substance disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
One-fifth (20.3%) of college students had 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI disorders; 83.1% of these cases had pre-matriculation onsets. Disorders with pre-matriculation onsets were more important than those with post-matriculation onsets in predicting subsequent college attrition, with substance disorders and, among women, major depression the most important such disorders. Only 16.4% of students with 12-month disorders received any 12-month healthcare treatment for their mental disorders.
Mental disorders are common among college students, have onsets that mostly occur prior to college entry, in the case of pre-matriculation disorders are associated with college attrition, and are typically untreated. Detection and effective treatment of these disorders early in the college career might reduce attrition and improve educational and psychosocial functioning.
To examine cross-national patterns and correlates of lifetime and 12-month comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders among people with lifetime and 12-month DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD).
Nationally or regionally representative epidemiological interviews were administered to 74 045 adults in 27 surveys across 24 countries in the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys. DSM-IV MDD, a wide range of comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders, and a number of correlates were assessed with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
45.7% of respondents with lifetime MDD (32.0–46.5% inter-quartile range (IQR) across surveys) had one of more lifetime anxiety disorders. A slightly higher proportion of respondents with 12-month MDD had lifetime anxiety disorders (51.7%, 37.8–54.0% IQR) and only slightly lower proportions of respondents with 12-month MDD had 12-month anxiety disorders (41.6%, 29.9–47.2% IQR). Two-thirds (68%) of respondents with lifetime comorbid anxiety disorders and MDD reported an earlier age-of-onset (AOO) of their first anxiety disorder than their MDD, while 13.5% reported an earlier AOO of MDD and the remaining 18.5% reported the same AOO of both disorders. Women and previously married people had consistently elevated rates of lifetime and 12-month MDD as well as comorbid anxiety disorders. Consistently higher proportions of respondents with 12-month anxious than non-anxious MDD reported severe role impairment (64.4 v. 46.0%; χ21 = 187.0, p < 0.001) and suicide ideation (19.5 v. 8.9%; χ21 = 71.6, p < 0.001). Significantly more respondents with 12-month anxious than non-anxious MDD received treatment for their depression in the 12 months before interview, but this difference was more pronounced in high-income countries (68.8 v. 45.4%; χ21 = 108.8, p < 0.001) than low/middle-income countries (30.3 v. 20.6%; χ21 = 11.7, p < 0.001).
Patterns and correlates of comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders among people with DSM-IV MDD are similar across WMH countries. The narrow IQR of the proportion of respondents with temporally prior AOO of anxiety disorders than comorbid MDD (69.6–74.7%) is especially noteworthy. However, the fact that these proportions are not higher among respondents with 12-month than lifetime comorbidity means that temporal priority between lifetime anxiety disorders and MDD is not related to MDD persistence among people with anxious MDD. This, in turn, raises complex questions about the relative importance of temporally primary anxiety disorders as risk markers v. causal risk factors for subsequent MDD onset and persistence, including the possibility that anxiety disorders might primarily be risk markers for MDD onset and causal risk factors for MDD persistence.
Previous research suggests that many people receiving mental health
treatment do not meet criteria for a mental disorder but are rather ‘the
To examine the association of past-year mental health treatment with
The World Health Organization's World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys
interviewed community samples of adults in 23 countries
(n = 62 305) about DSM-IV disorders and treatment in
the past 12 months for problems with emotions, alcohol or drugs.
Roughly half (52%) of people who received treatment met criteria for a
past-year DSM-IV disorder, an additional 18% for a lifetime disorder and
an additional 13% for other indicators of need (multiple subthreshold
disorders, recent stressors or suicidal behaviours). Dose–response
associations were found between number of indicators of need and
The vast majority of treatment in the WMH countries goes to patients with
mental disorders or other problems expected to benefit from
To examine barriers to initiation and continuation of mental health treatment among individuals with common mental disorders.
Data were from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Representative household samples were interviewed face to face in 24 countries. Reasons to initiate and continue treatment were examined in a subsample (n = 636 78) and analyzed at different levels of clinical severity.
Among those with a DSM-IV disorder in the past 12 months, low perceived need was the most common reason for not initiating treatment and more common among moderate and mild than severe cases. Women and younger people with disorders were more likely to recognize a need for treatment. A desire to handle the problem on one's own was the most common barrier among respondents with a disorder who perceived a need for treatment (63.8%). Attitudinal barriers were much more important than structural barriers to both initiating and continuing treatment. However, attitudinal barriers dominated for mild-moderate cases and structural barriers for severe cases. Perceived ineffectiveness of treatment was the most commonly reported reason for treatment drop-out (39.3%), followed by negative experiences with treatment providers (26.9% of respondents with severe disorders).
Low perceived need and attitudinal barriers are the major barriers to seeking and staying in treatment among individuals with common mental disorders worldwide. Apart from targeting structural barriers, mainly in countries with poor resources, increasing population mental health literacy is an important endeavor worldwide.
Previous community surveys of the drop out from mental health treatment have been carried out only in the USA and Canada.
To explore mental health treatment drop out in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys.
Representative face-to-face household surveys were conducted among adults in 24 countries. People who reported mental health treatment in the 12 months before interview (n = 8482) were asked about drop out, defined as stopping treatment before the provider wanted.
Overall, drop out was 31.7%: 26.3% in high-income countries, 45.1% in upper-middle-income countries, and 37.6% in low/ lower/middle-income countries. Drop out from psychiatrists was 21.3% overall and similar across country income groups (high 20.3%, upper-middle 23.6%, low/lower-middle 23.8%) but the pattern of drop out across other sectors differed by country income group. Drop out was more likely early in treatment, particularly after the second visit.
Drop out needs to be reduced to ensure effective treatment.