Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 51, Issue 10, pp 1449–1455 | Cite as

Poor mental health status and its associations with demographic characteristics and chronic diseases in Chinese elderly

  • Shibin Wang
  • Bo LiEmail author
  • Gabor S. Ungvari
  • Chee H. Ng
  • Helen F. K. Chiu
  • Changgui Kou
  • Yawen Liu
  • Yuchun Tao
  • Yanhua Wu
  • Yingli Fu
  • Yue Qi
  • Yaqin Yu
  • Yu-Tao XiangEmail author
Original Paper



Although poor mental health is associated with significant personal and societal burden, it is rarely reported in older Chinese populations. This study examined the mental health status of a large representative sample of Chinese elderly in relation to socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyle, and chronic diseases.


Multistage stratified cluster sampling was used in this cross-sectional study. A total of 4115 people aged between 60 and 79 years were selected and interviewed with standardized assessment tools. The 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) was used to measure general mental health with the total score of ≥4 as the threshold for poor mental health status.


The adjusted percentage of poor mental health status in the whole sample was 23.8 %; 18.5 % in men and 28.9 % in women. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that female gender, widowed/separated marital status, rural abode, low income, poor diet, lack of physical exercise, and multi-morbidity were independently associated with poor mental health. The percentage of poor mental health status was significantly higher in patients with anemia, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, cataract/glaucoma, ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases, nasopharyngitis, chronic gastroenteritis/peptic ulcer, liver diseases, cholecystitis/gallstone, arthritis, or chronic low back pain.


Given the high rate of poor mental health status among older Chinese population, policy makers and health professionals in China should address the mental health burden of its aging population.


Mental health Chronic disease Chinese elderly 



This study was funded by the Scientific Research Foundation of the Health Bureau of Jilin Province, China (Grant Number: 2011Z116).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest related to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shibin Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bo Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gabor S. Ungvari
    • 3
    • 4
  • Chee H. Ng
    • 5
  • Helen F. K. Chiu
    • 6
  • Changgui Kou
    • 1
  • Yawen Liu
    • 1
  • Yuchun Tao
    • 1
  • Yanhua Wu
    • 1
  • Yingli Fu
    • 1
  • Yue Qi
    • 1
  • Yaqin Yu
    • 1
  • Yu-Tao Xiang
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public HealthJilin UniversityChangchunChina
  2. 2.Unit of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Macau, Avenida da UniversidadeTaipaChina
  3. 3.University of Notre Dame Australia/Marian CentrePerthAustralia
  4. 4.School of Psychiatry and Clinical NeurosciencesUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryChinese University of Hong KongHong Kong SARChina

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