Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 309–316

Urbanisation and minor psychiatric morbidity

A community study in Taiwan
  • T. A. Cheng


The relationship between urbanisation and minor psychiatric morbidity (MPM) was investigated in one rural, one suburban, and one urban community in Taiwan. While there was no significant difference between communities in weighted prevalence of total morbidity, anxiety states, and a number of main symptoms, significantly lower rates of depressive illness/symptom were found in both native and migrant urban young women. Both the adverse rural environment with more chronic stressors and selective migration to the cities might explain the higher rates of depression in rural young women. Although no significant interaction between community and other demographic factors on the risk of MPM was found, psychosocial stresses associated with such morbidity were different between communities. It is hypothesised that the higher rate of depression in rural women will revert as urbanisation goes on.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bebbington P, Hurry J, Tennant C, Sturt E, Wink JK (1981) Epidemiology of mental disorders in Camberwell. Psychol Med 11: 561–579PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Blazer D, George LK, Landerman R, Pennybacker M, Melville ML, woodbury M, Manton KG, Jordan K, Locke B (1985) Psychiatric disorders: a rural/urban comparison. Arch Gen Psychiatry 42: 651–656PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown GW, Harris T (1978) The social origins of depression. Tavistock, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown GW, Harris T (1986) Stressors, vulnerability and depression: a question of replication (Editorial). Psychol Med 16: 739–744PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown GW, Prudo R (1981) Psychiatric disorder in a rural and an urban population. 1. Aetiology of depression. Psychol Med 11: 581–599PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Burvill PW (1982) The epidemiology of psychiatric illness in industrialised society. Aust NZ J Psychiatry 16: 144–151Google Scholar
  7. Cheng TA (1985) A pilot study of mental disorders in Taiwan. Psychol Med 15: 195–203PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cheng TA (1987) A community study of minor mental disorders in Taiwan. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Cheng TA (1988) A community study of minor psychiatric morbidity in Taiwan. Psychol Med 18: 953–968PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheng TA (in press a) Symptomatology of minor psychiatric morbidity: a crosscultural comparison. Psychol MedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheng TA (in press b) Psychosocial stress and minor psychiatric morbidity: a community study in Taiwan. J Affective DisordGoogle Scholar
  12. Cheng TA, Williams P (1986) The design and development of a screening questionnaire (CHQ) for use in community studies of mental disorders in Taiwan. Psychol Med 16: 415–422PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Comstock GW, Helsing KJ (1976) Symptoms of depression in two communities. Psychol Med 6: 551–563PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Cooper B, Morgan HG (1973) Epidemiological psychiatry. Springfield, IlinoisGoogle Scholar
  15. Cooper J, Sartorius N (1977) Cultural and temporal variations in Schizophrenia. A speculation on the importance of industrialisation. Br J Psychiatry 130: 50–55PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dohrenwend BP, Dohrenwend BS (1974) Psychiatric disorders in urban settings. In: Arieti S, Caplan G (eds) American handbook of psychiatry, 2nd edn, vol 2. Basic Books, New York, pp 424–447Google Scholar
  17. Dressler WW, Badger LW (1985) Epidemiology of depressive symptoms in Black community: a comparative analysis. J Nerv Ment Dis 173: 212–220PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Dunn G (1981) The role of linear models in psychiatric epidemiology. Psychol Med 11: 179–184PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Fromm E (1973) The anatomy of human destructiveness. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Goldberg DP, Cooper B, Eastwood MR, Kedward HB, Shepherd M (1970) A standardized psychiatric interview for use in community surveys. Br J Prev Soc Med 24: 18–23PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Greenblatt M (1970) The troubled mind in the troubled city. Compr Psychiatry 11: 8–17PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Hagnell O, Lanke J, Rorsman B, Ojesjo L (1982) Are we entering an age of melancholy? Depressive illness in a prospective epidemiological study over 25 years: the Lundby Study, Sweden. Psychol Med 12: 279–289PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hand DJ (1979) The variance of a prevalence estimate. Unpublished research report, Institute of Psychiatry, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Henderson S, Byrne DG, Duncan-Jones P (1981) Neurosis and the Social Environment. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Hsu FLK (1971) Psychosocial homeostasis and Jen: concepts for advancing psychological anthropology. Am Anthropol 73: 23–44Google Scholar
  26. Jenkins R (1985) Sex Difference in Minor Psychiatric Morbidity. Psychol Med [Monogr Suppl 7]: 22–23Google Scholar
  27. Kasl SV, Harburg E (1975) Mental health and the urban environment: some doubts and second thoughts. J Health Soc Behav 16:268–279PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Klerman GL (1969) Mental health and the urban crisis. Am J Orthopsychiatry 39: 818–826PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Knuiman MW, Burvill PW (1984) A statistical modelling approach to community prevalence data. Psychol Med 14: 167–173PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Kristol I (1974) The suburbanised world. Psychol Today 7: 72Google Scholar
  31. Krupinski J (1979) Urbanisation and mental health. Aust NZ J Psychiatry 13:139–145Google Scholar
  32. Levitt M (1972) Introduction. In: Levitt M, Rubenstein B (eds) On the urban scene. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, p 1Google Scholar
  33. Lin TY (1953) A study of the incidence of mental disorder in Chinese and other cultures. Psychiatry 16: 313–336PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Lin TY, Rin H, Yeh EK, Hsu CC, Chu HM (1969) Mental disorders in Taiwan, fifteen years later: a preliminary report. In: Caudill W, Lin TY (eds) Mental health research in Asia and the Pacific. East-West Center Press, Honolulu, pp 66–91Google Scholar
  35. Ministry of the Interior (1982) Taiwan-Fukien Demographic Fact Book, TaipeiGoogle Scholar
  36. Mueller DP (1981) The current status of urban-rural differences in psychiatric disorder: an emerging trend for depression. J Nerv Merit Dis 169:18–27Google Scholar
  37. Murphy HBM, Taumoepeau BM (1980) Traditionalism and mental health in the South Pacific: a re-examination of an old hypothesis. Psychol Med 10: 471–482PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Murphy JM (1986) Trends in depression and anxiety: men and women. Acta Psychiatr Scand 73:113–127PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Orley H, wing JK (1979) Psychiatric disorder in two African villages. Arch Gen Psychiatry 36: 513–520PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Prudo R, Brown GW, Harris T, Dowland J (1981) Psychiatric disorder in a rural and an urban population. 2. Sensitivity to loss. Psychol Med 11: 601–616PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Schlesselman JJ (1982) Case-control studies: design, conduct, analysis. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  42. Shepherd M (1977) Beyond the layman's madness: the extent of psychiatric disease. In: Tanner J (ed) Developments in psychiatric research. Hodder & Stoughton, London, pp 178–198Google Scholar
  43. Srole L (1972) Urbanization and mental health: some references. Am Sci 60: 576PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Tennant C, Bebbington P, Hurry J (1982) Female vulnerability to neurosis: the influence of social roles. Aust NZ J Psychiatry 16: 135–140Google Scholar
  45. Torgersen S (1985) Hereditary differentiation of anxiety and affective neuroses. Br J Psychiatry 146: 530–534PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Williams P (1985) Minor psychiatric morbidity in West London. Unpublished MD thesis, University of LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. Wing JK (1976) Mental health in urban environments In: Harrison GA, Gison JB (eds) Man in urban environments. Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  48. Wing JK, Cooper JE, Sartorius N (1974) The measurement and classification of psychiatric symptoms. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. A. Cheng
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryNational Taiwan University HospitalTaipei, TaiwanROC

Personalised recommendations