Skip to content

Journal Article

Geographical variation in rates of common mental disorders in Britain


Publication date



Background: There is little geographical variation in the prevalence of the common mental disorders. However, there is little longitudinal research.
Aims: To estimate variance in rates of common mental disorders at individual, household and electoral ward levels prospectively.
Method: A 12-month cohort study of 7659 adults aged 16-74 years in 4338 private households, in 626 electoral wards. Data were collected as part of the British Household Panel Survey. Common mental disorders were assessed using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Ward-level socio-economic deprivation was measured using the Carstairs index.
Results: Less than 1% of total variance, in onset and maintenance of common mental disorders and change in GHQ score between waves, occurred at ward level. However, 12% of variance, which is a statistically significant difference, was found at household level (a much smaller geographical unit) and this difference remained after further analyses.
Conclusions: Ward level socio-economic deprivation does not influence the onset and maintenance of common mental disorders in Britain but local factors at the household level do. Reasons for this remain unclear.

Published in

British Journal of Psychiatry


187 (Jul):29-34


Area Effects and Health



Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to Univ. Essex registered users*


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest