APH 2006, 64, 199-214:

Mental and Pain Comorbidity of Chronic Somatic Disorders in the General Population in Belgium.

C. Bertrem, R. Bruffaerts, A. Bonnewyn, H. Van Oyen, S. Demarest, K. Demyttenaere

Keywords: none

Objective: Gaining knowledge on (a) the mental and pain comorbidity patterns of somatic disorders in the Belgian general population, and (b) associated short-time work loss days.

Method: A representative random sample of non-institutionalised inhabitants from Belgium aged 18 or older (n=2419) were interviewed between April 2001 and June 2002. DSM-IV mental disorders were assessed with the 3rd version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI 3.0). The presence of chronic somatic disorders and chronic pain conditions was based on self-report.

Results: Chronic somatic disorders were systematically associated with either chronic pain conditions (adjusted odds ratios [adjusted for age, gender, and mental disorders] ranging between 2.3 and 2.7, p<.05) and mental disorders (adjusted odds ratios [adjusted for age, gender, and chronic pain conditions] ranging between 1.4 and 2.6, p<.05). Somatic disorders tended to be more chronic when they were comorbid with either mental disorders or pain conditions. Persons with a somatic disorder had, per month, 2.5 more work loss days than persons without a somatic disorder. Moreover, one third of this decrease in work loss was due to comorbid chronic pain or mental disorders.

Conclusions: These are the first epidemiological data on comorbidity of somatic conditions and mental disorders in the general population in Belgium. The results highlight that, after adjustment for the potential influence of other variables, there is a consistent association between somatic disorders on the one hand, and mental disorders and pain conditions on the other. Mental and pain comorbidity also play a significant role in work loss in persons with chronic somatic disorders.