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.