Functional disability of mental disorders and comparison with physical disorders: a study among the general population of six European countries

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2006 Jun;113(6):492-500. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2005.00684.x.


Objective: To examine the association of mental and physical disorders with multiple domains of functioning and compare the two.

Method: Data were derived from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders, a general population study in which adults (n > 21,000) from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain were assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (mental disorders), World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule second edition (functional disability) and self-report (physical disorders). Means in different groups were compared using the Mann-Whitney U-test and multiple regression analyses.

Results: Mental disorders were related to disability in all domains of functioning: anxiety disorders the most, followed by mood disorders, and finally alcohol disorders. The findings suggest that mental disorders are associated with similar or higher levels of disability in all domains, except getting around, than arthritis and heart disease.

Conclusion: Mental disorders are associated with a similar or higher negative impact on daily functioning than arthritis and heart disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Awareness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons* / psychology
  • Disabled Persons* / statistics & numerical data
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Persons with Mental Disabilities* / psychology
  • Persons with Mental Disabilities* / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life* / psychology