Chronic Illnesses Linked with Odds of Psychiatric Disorder

Recent research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Preventing Chronic Disease examines how the number of chronic illnesses affecting an individual is associated with the odds of a psychiatric disorder. Piane and Smith reported a dose-response relation between the number of chronic diseases (including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and heart disease) and the odds of psychiatric impairment among 39,954 participants in the 2009 California Health Interview Survey. Specifically, individuals with one chronic illness had 1.5 increased odds of a psychiatric impairment while individuals with four chronic diseases demonstrated 4.68 increased odds. The authors did not report additional information of disease ranking or correlations between comorbid chronic conditions.

In addition, the authors noted lifestyle and health behaviors as a factor stating

“Age, race/ethnicity, binge drinking, and BMI were significantly associated with reported chronic disease. Older, white, overweight participants were proportionately more likely to report at least 1 of the 4 chronic diseases. Reported chronic diseases, sex, age, race/ethnicity, current smoking, binge drinking, and moderate physical activity were significantly associated with any psychiatric distress and impairment (Table 2). Participants reporting more chronic diseases, women, younger participants, Hispanics, current smokers, binge drinkers, those not reporting moderate physical activity, and obese participants were proportionately more likely to report psychiatric distress and impairment.”

This research was covered in JAMA News from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This article describes that physical and mental health providers often remain in distant health care locations and that integrated behavioral health and primary care has the potential to address this issue. Finally, they cite how the Institute of Medicine recommends incorporating mental health services into the primary care environment to help “improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.”