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World Psychiatry. 2009 Jun;8(2):97-109.

The prevalence and correlates of DSM-IV disorders in the Iraq Mental Health Survey (IMHS).

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Iraq Ministry of Health.


Data on the prevalence and correlates of anxiety, mood, behavioral, and substance disorders are presented from a 2007-8 national survey of the Iraq population, the Iraq Mental Health Survey (IMHS). The IMHS was carried out by the Iraq Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Iraq Ministry of Planning and the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative. Interviews were administered to a probability sample of Iraqi household residents by trained lay interviewers. The WHO Composite International Diagnostic interview (CIDI) was used to assess DSM-IV disorders. The response rate was 95.2%. The estimated lifetime prevalence of any disorder was 18.8%. Cohort analysis documented significantly increasing lifetime prevalence of most disorders across generations. This was most pronounced for panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, with lifetime-to-date prevalence 5.4-5.3 times as high at comparable ages in the youngest (ages 18-34) as oldest (ages 65+) cohorts. Anxiety disorders were the most common class of disorders (13.8%) and major depressive disorder (MDD) the most common disorder (7.2%). Twelve-month prevalence of any disorder was 13.6%, with 42.1% of cases classified mild, 36.0% moderate, and 21.9% serious. The disorders most often classified serious were bipolar disorder (76.9%) and substance-related disorders (54.9%). Socio-demographic correlates were generally consistent with international epidemiological surveys, with the two exceptions of no significant gender differences in mood disorders and positive correlations of anxiety and mood disorders with education. Only 2.2% of IMHS respondents reported receiving treatment for emotional problems in the 12 months before interview, including 23.7% of those with serious, 9.2% with moderate, and 5.3% with mild disorders and 0.9% of other respondents. Most healthcare treatment, which was roughly equally distributed between the general medical and specialty sectors, was of low intensity. Further analyses of barriers to seeking treatment are needed to inform government efforts to expand the detection and treatment of mental disorders.


Iraq; Mental illness; World Mental Health Surveys; epidemiology


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