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Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl. 2004;(420):28-37.

12-Month comorbidity patterns and associated factors in Europe: results from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD) project.



Comorbidity patterns of 12-month mood, anxiety and alcohol disorders and socio-demographic factors associated with comorbidity were studied among the general population of six European countries.


Data were derived from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD), a cross-sectional psychiatric epidemiological study in a representative sample of adults aged 18 years or older in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The diagnostic instrument used was the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI). Data are based on 21 425 completed interviews.


In general, high associations were found within the separate anxiety disorders and between mood and anxiety disorders. Lowest comorbidity associations were found for specific phobia and alcohol abuse-the disorders with the least functional disabilities. Comorbidity patterns were consistent cross-nationally. Associated factors for comorbidity of mood and anxiety disorders were female gender, younger age, lower educational level, higher degree of urbanicity, not living with a partner and unemployment. Only younger people were at greater risk for comorbidity of alcohol disorder with mood, anxiety disorders or both.


High levels of comorbidity are found in the general population. Comorbidity is more common in specific groups. To reduce psychiatric burden, early intervention in populations with a primary disorder is important to prevent comorbidity.

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