• Vol. 41 No. 2, 49–66
  • 15 February 2012

A Population-based Survey of Mental Disorders in Singapore

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: Mental illnesses are not only a growing public health concern but also a major social and economic issue affecting individuals and families throughout the world. The prevalence of mental disorders, the extent of disability caused by these disorders, and services utilisation of these patients has been well studied in developed countries. The aim of this study was to establish the prevalence of select mental disorders and their associated sociodemographic correlates in the adult Singapore resident population.

Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional, population-based, epidemiological study of adult Singapore residents aged 18 years and above. The subjects were randomly selected using a disproportionate stratified sampling method. The diagnoses of selected mental disorders including major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymia, bipolar (bipolar I & II) disorders, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence were established using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, which is a fully structured diagnostic instrument that assesses lifetime and 12-month prevalence of mental disorders.

Results: Among the 6616 respondents (response rate of 75.9%), 12.0% had at least one lifetime affective, anxiety, or alcohol use disorders. The lifetime prevalence of MDD was 5.8% and that of bipolar disorder was 1.2%. The combined lifetime prevalence of the 2 anxiety disorders, GAD and OCD was 3.6%, with the latter being more common than GAD (0.9% and 3.0% respectively). The lifetime prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence were found to be 3.1% and 0.5% respectively. Age, gender, ethnicity, marital status and chronic physical illnesses were all significant correlates of mental disorders.

Conclusion: The identified associated factors would help guide resource allocation, policy formulation and programme development in Singapore.


Mental illnesses are not only a growing public health concern but also a major social and economic issue affecting individuals and families throughout the world. In 2007, Singapore rolled out its first National Mental Health Blueprint, and as we scale up the mental health services for the country, good quality and comprehensive analysis of the rates of important mental disorders and their associated factors, the unmet needs, and potential barriers to care would be needed for the rational allocation of resources.

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