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Prevalence of mental disorders in the elderly population 5 years after the Lushan earthquake in Ya’an, China



This study aimed to explore the prevalence and distribution of mental disorders in the elderly population 5 years after the Lushan earthquake in Ya’an, China.


A multi-stage, group-matching random sampling method was adopted with 2579 elderly participants (≥ 60 years old) who were interviewed from January to May 2019. Preliminary screening was conducted using the scale by trained psychiatric nurses, followed by a diagnostic interview during the second stage using Chinese Version of the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder by trained psychiatrists.


A total of 2561 participants were included in this study with complete data. The weighted lifetime prevalence of all mental disorders in the elderly was 16.2% (95% CI 15.3–17.1), and the weighted 12-month prevalence was 15.2% (95% CI 13.4–17.0). Depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, substance-related and addictive disorders were the most common mental disorders. The 12-month prevalence of all mental disorders were significantly higher in the elderly living alone, with chronic somatic disease, and being poor (P < 0.05). The 12-month prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was significantly higher in the elderly in extremely severely earthquake-affected areas (P < 0.001).


The results of this study show that mental health status of the elderly in Ya'an area differ by socio-economic development, geographical location, and natural disasters. The social and economic development characteristics, the impact of major natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes), and population characteristics should be combined to formulate strategies and interventions to promote the mental health of the elderly.

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The authors would like to thank all participants, investigators, clinicians, nurses, front-line workers in the community for participation and the data collection in the research project.


This project was supported by the Ya’an Science and Technology Project Funding, in China, Project No. (2018yyjskf04).

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Correspondence to Ru Gao or Mao-Sheng Ran.

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Gao, R., Zhang, BZ., Peng, SR. et al. Prevalence of mental disorders in the elderly population 5 years after the Lushan earthquake in Ya’an, China. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2022).

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  • Elderly
  • Mental disorder
  • Earthquakes
  • Epidemiology
  • China