Urban-rural mental health differences in great Britain: findings from the national morbidity survey

Psychol Med. 2000 Mar;30(2):269-80. doi: 10.1017/s003329179900183x.


Background: Studies of urban-rural differences in prevalence of non-psychotic mental disorder have not given consistent findings. Such differences have received relatively little study in Great Britain.

Methods: Data from 9777 subjects in the Household Survey of the National Morbidity Survey of Great Britain were analysed for differences between urban, semi-rural and rural areas. Psychiatric morbidity was assessed by scores on the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R), together with alcohol dependence, drug dependence, receipt of treatment from general practitioners. Associations with other characteristics were examined by logistic regression.

Results: Urban subjects had higher rates than rural of CIS-R morbidity, alcohol dependence and drug dependence, with semi-rural subjects intermediate. Urban subjects also tended to be members of more deprived social groups, with more adverse living circumstances and greater life stress, factors themselves associated with disorder. Urban-rural differences in alcohol and drug dependence were no longer significant after adjustment for these factors by logistic regression, and differences on CIS-R morbidity were considerably reduced. There were no differences in treatment.

Conclusions: There are considerable British urban rural differences in mental health, which may largely be attributable to more adverse urban social environments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*