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Gender differences in mental health expectancies in early- and midlife in six European countries

Lookup NU author(s): Tony Fouweather, Emerita Professor Carol Jagger


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Background: Health expectancies, taking into account both quality and quantity of life, have generally been based on disability and physical functioning. Aims: To compare mental health expectancies at age 25 and 55 based on common mental disorders both across countries and between males and females. Method: Mental health expectancies were calculated by combining mortality data from population life tables and the age-specific prevalence of selected common mental disorders obtained from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD). Results: For the male population aged 25 (all countries combined) life expectancy was 52 years and life expectancy spent with a common mental disorder was 1.8 years (95% CI 0.7–2.9), 3.4% of overall life expectancy. In comparison, for the female population life expectancy at age 25 was higher (57.9 years) as was life expectancy spent with a common mental disorder (5.1 years, 95% CI 3.6–6.6) and as a proportion of overall life expectancy, 8.8%. By age 55 life expectancy spent with a common mental disorder had reduced to 0.7 years (males) and 2.3 years (females). Conclusions: Age and gender differences underpin our understanding of years spent with common mental disorders in adulthood. Greater age does not mean living relatively more years with common mental disorder. However, the female population spends more years with common mental disorders and a greater proportion of their longer life expectancy with them (and with each studied separate mental disorder).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brugha TS, Matthews R, Alonso J, Vilagit G, Fouweather T, Bruffaerts R, de Girolamo G, de Graaf R, Haro JM, Kovess V, Jagger C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Psychiatry

Year: 2013

Volume: 202

Issue: 4

Pages: 294-300

Print publication date: 07/03/2013

ISSN (print): 0007-1250

ISSN (electronic): 1472-1465

Publisher: Royal College of Psychiatrists


DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.107003


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Funder referenceFunder name
ESEMeD/MHEDEA Investigators
Piedmont Region (Italy)
EAPH 2008/1308European Commission
FIS 00/0028Fondo de Investigacion Sanitaria, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain
QLG5-1999-01042European Commission
SANCO 2004123European Commission
RETICS RD06/0011 REM-TAPDepartament de Salut, Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain
SAF 2000-158-CEMinisterio de Ciencia y Tecnologia, Spain