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J Psychosom Res. 2000 Feb;48(2):115-23.

Chronic conditions, psychological distress and the use of psychoactive medications.

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Department of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



The purpose of this study was to examine whether number and type of chronic conditions are related to psychological distress, fatigue, and the use of psychoactive medications.


Data were taken from a community-based sample of adults who had responded to a health survey mailing (N = 9428). Chronic conditions were assessed by self-report. Information on the use of psychoactive medications was extracted from a claims database of prescribed drugs. Chronic conditions were compared controlling for confounding factors.


Strong associations were found between the number of chronic conditions, on the one hand, and psychological distress and fatigue, on the other. There was a less strong association between these factors and the use of medication for anxiety and stress, the use of sleeping pills or tranquilizers, and the use of antidepressants. There was only a partial association between type of condition, psychological distress, and fatigue. Migraine had the broadest impact, having an effect on psychological distress and fatigue and on the use of anxiolytics, as well as the use of antidepressants.


The association of chronic conditions with psychological distress, fatigue, and the use of psychoactive medications appeared to be related more to the number of conditions than to the type of condition.

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