High prevalence of mental disorders and comorbidity in the Geneva Gay Men’s Health Study

  • Jen Wang
  • Michael Häusermann
  • Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross
  • Peter Aggleton
  • Mitchell G. Weiss



Several large surveys have suggested high prevalence of psychiatric disorders among gay men and other men who have sex with men.


In 2002, a comprehensive health survey was conducted among 571 gay men in Geneva, Switzerland, using probability-based time-space sampling. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short-Form (CIDI-SF) was used to assess 12-month prevalence of major depression, specific phobia, social phobia, alcohol dependence, and drug dependence.


Nearly half (43.7%, 95% CI=39.0–48.4) of the sample fulfilled the criteria for at least one of the five DSM-IV disorders: 19.2% had major depression, 21.9% had specific and/or social phobia, and 16.7% had an alcohol and/or drug dependence disorder in the past 12 months. Over one quarter of the cases were comorbid with another kind of disorder, and 35.7% of cases consulted a health care professional in the past 12 months for mental health. Like cases, screen-positives for mood and/or anxiety disorders (24.7%) also reported significantly greater disability and lower quality of life.


Nearly two-thirds of this community sample of gay men was affected by psychiatric morbidity with new evidence for comorbidity, subthreshold disorders, and low levels of awareness of psychiatric disorders and their treatment. This population needs to be a priority in psychiatric epidemiology and mental public health.

Key words

homosexuality major depression anxiety substance use comorbidity 



The authors wish to thank project assistant Vincent Jobin and the many volunteers and experts in Geneva who have contributed to the overall project. Special acknowledgement goes to Ron Clarke at Health Canada for his participation in discussions on the overall project and Dr. Ron de Graaf at the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction (or Trimbos Institute) for his valuable input on the subject of mental health. Dialogai is a non-profit organisation supported by a grant from the canton of Geneva. The data collection for the Geneva Gay Men’s Health Survey was financed by the Swiss National Research Foundation grant 3326-062448 and the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. This publication and the analyses therein were financed by the Swiss National Research Foundation grant 3346C0-104189.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jen Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Häusermann
    • 3
  • Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross
    • 1
    • 4
  • Peter Aggleton
    • 5
  • Mitchell G. Weiss
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Social and Preventive MedicineZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss Tropical InstituteUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.DialogaiGenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Research Unit for Social and Clinical PsychiatryPsychiatric University ClinicZurichSwitzerland
  5. 5.Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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