Mental disorders in primary health care: a study of their frequency and diagnosis in four developing countries

Psychol Med. 1980 May;10(2):231-41. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700043993.


1624 patients who were attending primary health facilities in 4 developing countries were examined to determine how many were suffering from mental disorder. Using stringent criteria to establish the presence of psychiatric morbidity, 225 cases were found, indicating an overall frequency of 13.9%. The great majority of cases were suffering from neurotic illnesses and for most the presenting complaint was of a physical symptom, such as headache, abdominal pain, cough or weakness. The health workers following their normal procedure correctly detected one third of the psychiatric cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Developing Countries*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Neurotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Primary Health Care
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis