Past Issues

A Global Perspective on the Association between the Prevalences of Psychiatric Disorders and Medical Illnesses

Chia-Hung Lin, Chih-Chia Huang

Background: High rates of comorbidity of psychiatric disorders and medical
illnesses have been commonly reported. Few studies have addressed these associations
in a global perspective. We intended to test the hypothesis that high prevalences
of psychiatric disorders could be correlated to higher prevalences of medical
illnesses. Method: We obtained the prevalences for 9 psychiatric disorders and
7 medical illnesses for 69 countries grouped as 14 epidemiological subregions of
the world from the WHO Global Burden of Disease Project. Results: The study
results showed that signifi cant positive correlations of the prevalences of some
psychiatric disorders and medical illnesses, particularly drug use disorder vs.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (r = 0.884), schizophrenia vs. diabetes mellitus
(r = 0.833), drug use disorder vs. diabetes mellitus (r = 0.803), schizophrenia
vs. osteoarthritis (r = 0.800), drug use disorder vs. rheumatoid arthritis (r = 0.799),
and bipolar disorder vs. osteoarthritis (r = 0.783) (all p < 0.001). No signifi cant
correlations exited between depressive, anxiety disorders, and medical illnesses.
Additionally, some not directly related diseases were close in the hierarchical cluster
analysis. Conclusion: Our results agree with clinical reports and strengthen the
close linking between some psychiatric disorders and medical illnesses. The two
corresponding groups of diseases may share some risk factors, and the comorbidity
is not dependent of side effects of psychopharmacological medications completely.
This study also demonstrates how global epidemiological study can evaluate
the hypotheses for comorbidity successfully.
Key Word mental illnesses, physical diseases, global perspective, prevalence
Editorial Committe, Taiwanese Journal of Psychiatry
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