Clustering of psychiatric and somatic illnesses in the general population: multimorbidity and socioeconomic correlates

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2010 May;43(5):483-91. doi: 10.1590/s0100-879x2010007500024. Epub 2010 Apr 2.


The distribution of psychiatric disorders and of chronic medical illnesses was studied in a population-based sample to determine whether these conditions co-occur in the same individual. A representative sample (N = 1464) of adults living in households was assessed by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, version 1.1, as part of the São Paulo Epidemiological Catchment Area Study. The association of sociodemographic variables and psychological symptoms regarding medical illness multimorbidity (8 lifetime somatic conditions) and psychiatric multimorbidity (15 lifetime psychiatric disorders) was determined by negative binomial regression. A total of 1785 chronic medical conditions and 1163 psychiatric conditions were detected in the population concentrated in 34.1 and 20% of respondents, respectively. Subjects reporting more psychiatric disorders had more medical illnesses. Characteristics such as age range (35-59 years, risk ratio (RR) = 1.3, and more than 60 years, RR = 1.7), being separated (RR = 1.2), being a student (protective effect, RR = 0.7), being of low educational level (RR = 1.2) and being psychologically distressed (RR = 1.1) were determinants of medical conditions. Age (35-59 years, RR = 1.2, and more than 60 years, RR = 0.5), being retired (RR = 2.5), and being psychologically distressed (females, RR = 1.5, and males, RR = 1.4) were determinants of psychiatric disorders. In conclusion, psychological distress and some sociodemographic features such as age, marital status, occupational status, educational level, and gender are associated with psychiatric and medical multimorbidity. The distribution of both types of morbidity suggests the need of integrating mental health into general clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Young Adult