Association Found Between Chronic Diseases and Mental Illness Among Less Fortunate Individuals

People from poor or middle-income households with conditions such as diabetes or asthma face greater risk for serious mental illness.

An association was found between individuals from poor or middle-income households suffering from a chronic health condition and the probability of serious mental illness (SMI).

Researchers examined data from the 2011 New York City Community Health Survey of more than 8000 adults (N = 8792) using logistic regression modeling. They also included interaction terms or models classified by household income in order to determine where there was effect modification.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Community Psychology, showed that those with chronic health conditions like asthma, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, were more likely to report probable SMI if they were from poor to middle-income households.

The most significant association was found between diabetes and household income for probable SMI.

The stratified models showed that asthma was associated with probable SMI among poor households (< 100% federal poverty), while diabetes was found to only have an association with probable SMI among middle-income households (200% to < 400% federal poverty).

“The findings suggest that a person's physical and mental well-being are tied closely to one another," said study co-author Jeffrey Duong. "They also highlight the importance of getting health care providers the support and resources needed to screen and address the physical and mental health concerns of their patients. Recently, the US Department of Health and Human Services has sought to promote the implementation of integrated models of care in community health settings, which may enable providers to better identify and intervene in their patients' medical and behavioral health problems sooner, thereby improving health outcomes.”