Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Illness, disability and treatment : WHO has the answers

A major study by the World Health Organization (WHO) into illness, disability and treatment has found that mental illnesses are under-treated compared to physical illnesses even though respondents more often attributed their disability to a mental disorder. The study took place in 15 countries and surveyed 73,441 people. The researchers measured treatment sought and received for both physical and mental disorders and assessed the level and type of disability attributed to them by respondents. They measured the impact of illness and disability on home management, ability to work, social life and close personal relationships. Participants generally attributed more of their disability to a mental, rather than a physical, disorder and the higher levels of disability associated with mental disorders was much more pronounced in social and personal relationships than in productive roles, such as work and housework. The study also found that the proportion of people receiving treatment was much lower for mental than for physical disorders. This was apparent in the high-income countries which took part in the survey (Belgium, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, the U.S. and New Zealand) and was even worse in the low-income countries (Colombia, Lebanon, China, South Africa and the Ukraine).

You can read more about this research at

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