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Compr Psychiatry. 2009 Mar-Apr;50(2):108-14. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2008.06.003. Epub 2008 Aug 23.

General health and quality-of-life measures in active, recent, and comorbid mental disorders: a population-based health 2000 study.

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Department of Psychiatry, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



We studied the impact of comorbidity and recency in psychiatric disorders on psychological well-being, perceived health, and quality of life and compared their effect with the effect of a chronic medical condition, type 2 diabetes mellitus.


Established instruments for psychological distress (12-item General Health Questionnaire [GHQ-12]), self-rated general health, and health-related quality of life (EQ-5D and 15D) were administered for the participants of the nationwide Finnish Health 2000 survey. The diagnoses of depressive, anxiety, and alcohol use disorders and their unique comorbid combinations were based on the Munich version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (M-CIDI).


People with comorbid anxiety and depressive disorders had the highest distress and lowest health and quality-of-life ratings on all scales. The effects of mental disorders on health-related quality of life and self-rated health were comparable to the effects of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes mellitus and alcohol use disorder were associated with minimal, although statistically significant, increase of psychological distress. Symptom recovery from an active depressive disorder associated with improved well-being on all measures, but residual ill-being was also remarkably common among the partly or fully recovered in all disorder categories.


Even in comparison with a chronic physical illness such as diabetes, comorbid psychiatric disorders have a high impact on psychological well-being, perceived health, and quality of life, when evaluated by simple, useful, and feasible self-rating scales. The scales used may be useful in monitoring the severity and course of psychiatric conditions. Recognizing and treating psychiatric comorbidity is important in improving the quality of life of psychiatric patients.

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