Life Stress and Mental Disorders in the South African Stress and Health Study
Methods: Data were analysed from the South African Stress and Health Study, a population-based study of mental disorders in a nationally representative sample of adults (N=4351). Psychiatric disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). This included questions covering early and later SLEs (negative life events, relationship stress, partner violence, social strain and adverse events during childhood) and various sociodemographic variables. Logistic regression models were constructed for 3957 respondents (2371 female; 1586 male) with no missing covariate data, to assess life stress and sociodemographic predictors of 12-month and lifetime disorder.
Results: Recent negative life events and relationship problems were significant predictors of any 12-month disorder and any lifetime disorder. Physical partner violence predicted any lifetime disorder. There was evidence of specificity for the prediction of mood versus anxiety disorders, with childhood adversity specifically associated with mood disorders but not anxiety disorders. Single marital status was the strongest sociodemographic predictor of any 12-month and any lifetime disorder.
Conclusions: Stressful life events, distal and proximal, contribute significantly and independently to the prediction of major psychiatric disorders among South Africans, underscoring the importance of screening adversities in adults with common mental disorders, and of providing appropriate adjunctive interventions.
Soraya Seedat, University of Stellenbosch
Dan J. Stein, University of Cape Town
Pamela B Jackson, Indiana University
Steven G. Heeringa, University of Michigan
David R. Williams, Harvard University
Landon Myer, School of public health and family medicine, university of cape town
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Date published: 2009-05-11
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