Trends in population mental health before and after the 2008 recession: a repeat cross-sectional analysis of the 1991-2010 health surveys of England

Katikireddi, S. V. , Niedzwiedz, C. L. and Popham, F. (2012) Trends in population mental health before and after the 2008 recession: a repeat cross-sectional analysis of the 1991-2010 health surveys of England. British Medical Journal, 2(5), e00179. (doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001790)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001790

Abstract

Objective: To assess short-term differences in population mental health before and after the 2008 recession and explore how and why these changes differ by gender, age and socio-economic position.

Design: Repeat cross-sectional analysis of survey data.

Setting: England.

Participants: Representative samples of the working age (25–64 years) general population participating in the Health Survey for England between 1991 and 2010 inclusive.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence of poor mental health (caseness) as measured by the general health questionnaire-12 (GHQ).

Results: Age–sex standardised prevalence of GHQ caseness increased from 13.7% (95% CI 12.9% to 14.5%) in 2008 to 16.4% (95% CI 14.9% to 17.9%) in 2009 and 15.5% (95% CI 14.4% to 16.7%) in 2010. Women had a consistently greater prevalence since 1991 until the current recession. However, compared to 2008, men experienced an increase in age-adjusted caseness of 5.1% (95% CI 2.6% to 7.6%, p<0.001) in 2009 and 3% (95% CI 1.2% to 4.9%, p=0.001) in 2010, while no statistically significant changes were seen in women. Adjustment for differences in employment status and education level did not account for the observed increase in men nor did they explain the differential gender patterning. Over the last decade, socio-economic inequalities showed a tendency to increase but no clear evidence for an increase in inequalities associated with the recession was found. Similarly, no evidence was found for a differential effect between age groups.

Conclusions: Population mental health in men has deteriorated within 2 years of the onset of the current recession. These changes, and their patterning by gender, could not be accounted for by differences in employment status. Further work is needed to monitor recessionary impacts on health inequalities in response to ongoing labour market and social policy changes.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Katikireddi, Dr Srinivasa and Popham, Dr Timothy and Niedzwiedz, Dr Claire
Authors: Katikireddi, S. V., Niedzwiedz, C. L., and Popham, F.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:British Medical Journal
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:0959-535X
Published Online:17 October 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMJ 2:e00179
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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