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Psychol Med. 1995 Mar;25(2):277-83.

Hysterectomy and psychiatric disorder: are the levels of psychiatric morbidity falling?

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Oxford University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital.


This paper compares the findings of three studies carried out at intervals over the years 1975-1990. The three studies were concerned with different issues, but each study examined psychiatric morbidity among women undergoing hysterectomy for menorrhagia of benign origin. In all three studies levels of psychiatric morbidity were measured before the operation and 6 months after the operation. Psychiatric morbidity was measured with the Present State Examination (PSE) (Wing et al. 1974), and with established self-report questionnaires. Levels of psychiatric morbidity fell significantly across the three studies. In Study 1, the proportions of psychiatric cases were 58% before hysterectomy and 26% after; in Study 2, 28% before and 7% after; and in Study 3, 9% before and 4% after. The decline in psychiatric morbidity was not associated with demographic and social characteristics, previous psychiatric history, family psychiatric history, the nature of the women's menstrual complaints, or the women's understanding and expectations of the operation. In Study 3 anti-menorrhagic drugs were prescribed twice as frequently as in the two previous studies; while the prescribing of psychotropic medication was significantly higher in Study 1 than in Study 2 or Study 3. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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