a1 Department of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London; and Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge
This paper investigates factors affecting the distribution of psychiatric morbidity in the community. It identifies a close relationship between mean Chronic General Health Questionnaire (CGHQ) scores in subdivisions of a large random sample of the community (the Health and Lifestyle Survey, N = 6317) and the prevalence in these groups of abnormal, above-threshold CGHQ scores. The frequency distributions of CGHQ scores in these different populations move up and down as a whole: like other physiological and behavioural attributes, these mental health outcomes in individuals are associated with characteristics of the populations in which they arise. Populations thus carry a collective responsibility for their own mental health and well-being. This implies that explanations for the differing prevalence rates of psychiatric morbidity must be sought in the characteristics of their parent populations; and control measures are unlikely to succeed if they do not involve population-wide changes.
c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Jeremy Anderson, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Private Bag, Dunedin, New Zealand.