The prevalence of childhood mental disorders in different habitations: are we underestimating their prevalence in rural areas?

Nord J Psychiatry. 2020 Apr;74(3):201-207. doi: 10.1080/08039488.2019.1689295. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


Background: Recently, the number of epidemiological studies of child psychiatry has increased, but most of these studies focus on children living in city centres. Unfortunately, one-third of the global population lives in rural areas, and various habitations exist in cities, including city centres and slums. Moreover, despite having a high risk for psychopathology development, individuals who have symptoms but fall outside the limits specified for diagnoses due to having fewer symptoms than those mentioned in diagnostic systems and individuals who do not fulfil the impairment criteria listed in diagnostic systems are not addressed in these studies.Aim: The purpose of this study was to understand the prevalence of DSM-IV childhood psychiatric disorders and subthreshold psychiatric problems from middle-class city centres, city centres in slums, towns and village areas of Turkey with a nationally representative sample using a state-of-the-art methodology.Methods: In total, 1080 children were randomly selected from second and third grades for the study's sample. A structured diagnostic interview was applied.Results: The overall prevalence of psychiatric disorders was 8.4% (n = 91); 7.2% (n = 78) of the children were subthreshold cases. The general prevalence of psychiatric disorders was higher among children living in villages with respect to all the other human settlement areas included in the study.Conclusions: Although global urbanisation foregrounds the mental health of children living in cities, children in rural areas may have a greater risk of developing a mental disorder. This study confirmed that an equal amount of children fell outside of the diagnosing limits.

Keywords: Epidemiology; children; mental health; subthreshold disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Psychiatry / methods
  • Child Psychiatry / trends
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / trends*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Random Allocation
  • Rural Population / trends*
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / trends