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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2012 Oct;36(5):483-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2012.00916.x.

Increased prevalence of chronic physical health disorders in Australians with diagnosed mental illness.

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  • 1Institute for Health and Social Science Research, CQUniversity, Queensland, Australia.



To compare chronic physical health disorder prevalence amongst Australian adults with and without mental illness.


Total n=1,716 participants (58% female) with a mean age of 52 ± 13 years (range: 18 to 89 years) completed an online survey of Australian adults in 2010. Outcome measures including prevalence of chronic physical conditions and self-reported body mass index (BMI) in n=387 (23%) with a self-reported mental illness diagnosis were compared to respondents without mental illness.


A significantly higher proportion of participants with mental illness were obese (BMI ≥ 30; 31 vs 24%, p=0.005). Adjusted odds ratios (OR) for coronary heart disease, diabetes, chronic bronchitis or emphysema, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and food allergies or intolerances (OR range: 1.54-3.19) demonstrated that chronic physical disorders were significantly more common in participants with a mental illness.


Australian adults with a diagnosis for mental illness have a significantly increased likelihood of demonstrating chronic physical health disorders compared to persons without mental illness.


Health professionals must be alert to the increased likelihood of comorbid chronic physical disorders in persons with a mental illness and should consider the adoption of holistic approaches when treating those with either a mental or physical illness.

© 2012 The Authors. ANZJPH © 2012 Public Health Association of Australia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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