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Associations of serious mental illness with earnings: results from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys


Levinson, D and Lakoma, MD and Petukhova, M and Schoenbaum, M and Zaslavsky, AM and Angermeyer, M and Borges, G and Bruffaerts, R and de Girolamo, G and de Graaf, R and Gureje, O and Haro, JM and Hu, CY and Karam, AN and Kawakami, N and Lee, S and Lepine, JP and Browne, MO and Okoliyski, M and Posada-Villa, J and Sagar, R and Viana, MC and Williams, DR and Kessler, RC, Associations of serious mental illness with earnings: results from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys, British Journal of Psychiatry, 197, (2) pp. 114-121. ISSN 0007-1250 (2010) [Refereed Article]

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© 2010 The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

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DOI: doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.109.073635


Background Burden-of-illness data, which are often used in setting healthcare policy-spending priorities, are unavailable for mental disorders in most countries. Aims To examine one central aspect of illness burden, the association of serious mental illness with earnings, in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys. Method The WMH Surveys were carried out in 10 high-income and 9 low- and middle-income countries. The associations of personal earnings with serious mental illness were estimated. Results Respondents with serious mental illness earned on average a third less than median earnings, with no significant between-country differences (2(9) = 5.5–8.1, P = 0.52–0.79). These losses are equivalent to 0.3–0.8% of total national earnings. Reduced earnings among those with earnings and the increased probability of not earning are both important components of these associations. Conclusions These results add to a growing body of evidence that mental disorders have high societal costs. Decisions about healthcare resource allocation should take these costs into consideration.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Browne, MO (Professor Mark Oakley Browne)
ID Code:65326
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:97
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2010-11-03
Last Modified:2011-04-19

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