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The physical and social associations of common mental disorder in a tribal population in South India



Previous studies have shown high prevalence rates of Common Mental Disorder (CMD) in developing countries, however few have studied its relationship with physical morbidity.


To examine the association between CMD and anaemia, malnutrition and physical symptoms.


Outpatients attending a hospital for tribal people in Kerala, India were interviewed to collect information on demographic characteristics, physical symptoms and life events. They were weighed and measured and their haemoglobin concentration was measured. Associations between these data and Self Report Questionnaire (SRQ) score were examined.


Multivariate analysis showed high SRQ score was associated with more physical symptoms, being female, no education and more life events in the past year.


The main associations of CMD are social. The association with physical symptoms may also be socially mediated.

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I am indebted to Jaladhiraj, Suma and Girija, health workers at the Swami Vivekandanda Medical Mission, for conducting the interviews and to Dr.C.Rajagopalan, Dr.N.Mahadun and Dr.C.T.Sudhir Kumar for translation.

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Correspondence to Richard J. Hackett.

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Hackett, R.J., Sagdeo, D. & Creed, F.H. The physical and social associations of common mental disorder in a tribal population in South India. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 42, 712–715 (2007).

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Key words

  • common mental disorder
  • India
  • anaemia
  • tribal