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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.
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.
Associations between specific parent and offspring mental disorders are likely to have been overestimated in studies that have failed to control for parent comorbidity.
To examine the associations of parent with respondent disorders.
Data come from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Surveys (n = 51 507). Respondent disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and parent disorders with informant-based Family History Research Diagnostic Criteria interviews.
Although virtually all parent disorders examined (major depressive, generalised anxiety, panic, substance and antisocial behaviour disorders and suicidality) were significantly associated with offspring disorders in multivariate analyses, little specificity was found. Comorbid parent disorders had significant sub-additive associations with offspring disorders. Population-attributable risk proportions for parent disorders were 12.4% across all offspring disorders, generally higher in high- and upper-middle- than low-/lower-middle-income countries, and consistently higher for behaviour (11.0–19.9%) than other (7.1–14.0%) disorders.
Parent psychopathology is a robust non-specific predictor associated with a substantial proportion of offspring disorders.
Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide, but the precise effect of childhood adversities as risk factors for the onset and persistence of suicidal behaviour (suicide ideation, plans and attempts) are not well understood.
To examine the associations between childhood adversities as risk factors for the onset and persistence of suicidal behaviour across 21 countries worldwide.
Respondents from nationally representative samples (η = 55 299) were interviewed regarding childhood adversities that occurred before the age of 18 years and lifetime suicidal behaviour.
Childhood adversities were associated with an increased risk of suicide attempt and ideation in both bivariate and multivariate models (odds ratio range 1.2–5.7). The risk increased with the number of adversities experienced, but at a decreasing rate. Sexual and physical abuse were consistently the strongest risk factors for both the onset and persistence of suicidal behaviour, especially during adolescence. Associations remained similar after additional adjustment for respondents' lifetime mental disorder status.
Childhood adversities (especially intrusive or aggressive adversities) are powerful predictors of the onset and persistence of suicidal behaviours.
Advocates of expanded mental health treatment assert that mental
disorders are as disabling as physical disorders, but little evidence
supports this assertion.
To establish the disability and treatment of specific mental and physical
disorders in high-income and low- and middle-income countries.
Community epidemiological surveys were administered in 15 countries
through the World Health Organization World Mental Health (WMH) Survey
Respondents in both high-income and low- and middle-income countries
attributed higher disability to mental disorders than to the commonly
occurring physical disorders included in the surveys. This pattern held
for all disorders and also for treated disorders. Disaggregation showed
that the higher disability of mental than physical disorders was limited
to disability in social and personal role functioning, whereas disability
in productive role functioning was generally comparable for mental and
Despite often higher disability, mental disorders are under-treated
compared with physical disorders in both high-income and in low- and
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