Normality, deviance and minor psychiatric morbidity in the community. A population-based approach to General Health Questionnaire data in the Health and Lifestyle Survey

Psychol Med. 1993 May;23(2):475-85. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700028567.


This paper investigates factors affecting the distribution of psychiatric morbidity in the community. It identifies a close relationship between mean Chronic General Health Questionnaire (CGHQ) scores in subdivisions of a large random sample of the community (the Health and Lifestyle Survey, N = 6317) and the prevalence in these groups of abnormal, above-threshold CGHQ scores. The frequency distributions of CGHQ scores in these different populations move up and down as a whole: like other physiological and behavioural attributes, these mental health outcomes in individuals are associated with characteristics of the populations in which they arise. Populations thus carry a collective responsibility for their own mental health and well-being. This implies that explanations for the differing prevalence rates of psychiatric morbidity must be sought in the characteristics of their parent populations; and control measures are unlikely to succeed if they do not involve population-wide changes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reference Values
  • Social Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Social Behavior Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology