East African Medical Journal

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Psychiatric morbidity in two urban communities in Nigeria

N Mba, OO Famuyiwa, O Aina


Background: There is a welter of evidence for an inverse relationship between socio-economic status (SES) and mental health. The relationship is grossly under researched in the developing countries.
Objective: To ascertain rates of gross psychiatric morbidity and some demographic correlations in two communities with different socio-economic standards.
Design: A cross-sectional community based study.
Subjects: Random samples of two socio-economically dissimilar communities (N1 = 189, N2 = 148) were assessed for psychiatric morbidity.
Results: Rates of psychiatric morbidity obtained for the lower status community (Ajegunle) and the higher status community (Victoria Island/Ikoyi) on the GH Q-12 were 26.5 and 14.2 respectively and the corresponding figures on the SRQ (non-psychosis) were 41.8 and 18.2 and on the SRQ (psychosis) 61.5 and 31.7. A large number of positive socio-demographic correlations between cases and non-cases were obtained on SRQ and GHQ-12 in both communities. Family history of psychiatric illness significantly differentiates cases from non-cases on all measures of morbidity.
Conclusion: The socio-economic inequality demonstrated should be minimised by evolving a social welfare policy in Nigeria and other developing countries that is responsive to the survival needs of the populace and ensures equitable distribution of resources across socio-economic strata. There is dire need for further research into the complex bearings of the link between social status and psychological wellness in the developing world.

East African Medical Journal Vol. 85 (8) 2008: pp. 368-377
AJOL African Journals Online