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Ann Acad Med Singapore. 2012 Mar;41(3):105-14.

Prevalence and impact of mental and physical comorbidity in the adult Singapore population.

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Research Division, Institute of Mental Health, Singapore.



This study aims to assess the prevalence rates of mental disorders and chronic medical conditions in the Singapore resident population, and examine their association and respective impact on the quality of life.


A household survey was carried out on a nationally representative sample of the adult (18 years and above) resident population. The main instrument used to establish the diagnosis of mental disorders is the World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI). The mental disorders included in study were major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Respondents were asked if they had any of the chronic medical conditions from a list of 15 conditions. Health-related quality of life was assessed with the EQ-5D.


Of the 6616 respondents, the lifetime prevalence of mental disorders was 12.0%, and that of chronic medical disorders were 42.6% and those with comorbid mental and medical disorders was 6.1%. The prevalence of any physical disorder in this population was high (42.6%). Among those with chronic physical disorders, 14.3% also had a mental disorder, and among those with mental disorders, more than half (50.6%) had a medical disorder. Most of the mental disorders were not treated. Males, Indians, older people, and those who were separated or divorced were more likely to have comorbidity. The health-related quality of life was significant worse in those with both mental and medical disorders compared to those with either mental or medical disorder.


Our study re-emphasised the common occurrence of mental and medical disorders and the importance for an integrated care system with the capability to screen and treat both types of disorders. It also identified certain subpopulations which are more likely to have comorbidity for which a more targeted intervention could be planned.

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