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Chronic Illn. 2009 Sep;5(3):197-208. doi: 10.1177/1742395309341901. Epub 2009 Aug 10.

Self-reported chronic mental health problems and mental health service use in Spain.

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Departament de Medicina Cliotanica, Universitat Miguel Hernàndez, Ctra. de València km 87. 03550 Sant Joan d'Alacant, Spain.



To determine the prevalence of self-reported chronic mental health problems (MHPs) and mental health service use and their determinants, among the Spanish population over 14 years of age.


Data from the 1999 Spanish Survey on Disabilities, Deficiencies, and State of Health were used. The survey is a cross-sectional study based on a multi-stage stratified sample of all the non-institutionalized Spanish population aged over 14 years (n=59,101, 11% non-responders). Multivariate logistic regression analysis were used.


10.7% of the Spanish population suffer from an MHP. The highest prevalences were found in women, divorced/separated persons, those with a lower level of education and income, and those suffering from a chronic somatic problem. The number of days of daily activity lost was 2-fold greater among those with an MHP than among those with a chronic somatic problem. Greater use of mental health services was associated with loss of daily activity, having a higher level of education, invalidity or disability. The probability of MHP being referred from primary to mental healthcare is reduced if somatic comorbidity is present.


MHPs have a high prevalence and a significant repercussion on the patient's life. An inverse relationship was found between certain risk factors for MHPs and the use of services, which suggests inequality. Problems of accessibility are identified.

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