Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 132-140

First online:

The prevalence of psychiatric morbidity among people aged 85 and over living at home

Associations with reported somatic symptoms and with consulting behaviour
  • A. BowlingAffiliated withLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Health Services Research Unit, Department of Public Health and Policy, University of London

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A survey of all people aged 85 years and over, living in an inner London borough, was carried out. In 1987, 662 people who lived at home were traced from family practitioner committee records and interviewed. The General Health Questionnaire was administered to measure psychiatric morbidity (after excluding people with evidence of disorientation or confusional states). 27% of respondents were rated as having probable psychiatric morbidity (cases). These cases were more likely to report somatic health problems, particularly those associated with stress. There was no relationship with psychiatric morbidity and age, sex, social network type, or feelings of loneliness. However, fewer of those rated as cases, and who also independently reported problems with nerves, stress or depression, said they had reported these feelings to their general practitioners. Multiple regression analysis showed no significant relationship with General Health Questionnaire score and recency of contact with general practitioners.