Prevalence, co-morbidity and correlates of mental disorders in the general population: results from the German Health Interview and Examination Survey (GHS)

Psychol Med. 2004 May;34(4):597-611. doi: 10.1017/S0033291703001399.


Background: The German National Health Interview and Examination Survey (GHS) is the first government mandated nationwide study to investigate jointly the prevalence of somatic and mental disorders within one study in the general adult population in Germany. This paper reports results from its Mental Health Supplement (GHS-MHS) on 4-week 12-month, and selected lifetime prevalence of a broad range of DSM-IV mental disorders, their co-morbidity and correlates in the community.

Methods: The sample of the GHS-MHS (n=4181; multistage stratified random sample drawn from population registries; conditional response rate: 87.6%) can be regarded as representative for the German population aged 18-65. Diagnoses are based on fully structured computer assisted clinical interviews (M-CIDI), conducted by clinically trained interviewers.

Results: 12-month prevalence for any DSM-IV study disorder is 31% (lifetime: 43%; 4-week: 20%) with anxiety disorders, mood disorders and somatoform syndromes being the most frequent diagnoses. Retrospective age of onset information reveals that most disorders begin early in life. Co-morbidity rates among mental disorders range from 44% to 94%. Correlates of increased rates of mental disorders and co-morbidity were: female gender (except for substance disorders), not being married, low social class, and poor somatic health status. Health care utilization for mental disorders depended on co-morbidity (30% in 'pure', 76% in highly co-morbid cases) and varied from 33% for substance use disorders to 75% for panic disorder.

Conclusions: Results confirm and extend results from other national studies using the same assessment instruments with regard to prevalence, co-morbidity and sociodemographic correlates, covering a broader range of DSM-IV disorders [i.e. somatoform disorders, all anxiety disorders (except PTSD), mental disorders due to substance or general medical factor, eating disorders]. Intervention rates were higher than in previous studies, yet still low overall.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*