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Soc Sci Med. 1998 Dec;47(12):2043-53.

Social class, assets, organizational control and the prevalence of common groups of psychiatric disorders.

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  • 1Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health and Prevention Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown 26506-9190, USA.


This study provides an update on the association between social class and common types of psychiatric disorder in the US. In addition to usual measures of social class, we provide hypotheses for the expectation that assets and organizational control are associated with specific varieties of psychiatric disorders (mood, anxiety, alcohol and drug use disorders). We analyzed two surveys. The National Comorbidity Survey conducted in 1990-1992 yielded 12-month prevalence rates in a probability sample of 8098 respondents in the 48 contiguous states. The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Follow-up conducted in 1993-1996 provided similar rates among 1920 East Baltimore residents. Analyses of the National Comorbidity Survey showed an inverse association between financial and physical assets and mood, anxiety, alcohol, and drug disorders. The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Followup provided additional evidence for the inverse association between financial and physical assets and anxiety, alcohol and drug disorders. Also in the Epidemiologic Catchment Area, lower level supervisors presented higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders than higher level managers. Inequalities in assets and organizational control, as well as typical measures of social class, are associated with specific psychiatric disorders. These constructs can provide additional explanations for why social inequalities in psychiatric disorders occur.

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