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      Time trends in depression prevalence and health-related correlates: results from population-based surveys in Germany 1997–1999 vs. 2009–2012


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          Although an “epidemic” of depression is frequently claimed, empirical evidence is inconsistent, depending on country, study design and depression assessment. Little is known about changes in depression over time in Germany, although health insurance companies report frequency increases. Here we examined time trends in depression prevalence, severity and health-related correlates in the general population.


          Data were obtained from the mental health module of the “German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Adults” (2009–2012, n = 3265) and the mental health supplement of the “German National Health Interview and Examination Survey 1998” (1997–1999, n = 4176), excluding respondents older than 65. 12-month major depressive disorder (MDD), severity and symptoms were assessed based on the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Health-related quality of life (SF-36), self-reported sick days or days with limitations in normal daily life activities were examined, too. Calculations were carried out population-weighted. Additional age-standardized analyses were conducted to account for demographic changes.


          Overall, MDD 12-month prevalence remained stable at 7.4%. Women showed a shifted age distribution with increased prevalence at younger ages, and increasing MDD severity. Time trends in health-related correlates occurred both in participants with and without MDD. Mental health disability increased over time, particularly among men with MDD, reflected by the mental component score of the SF-36 and days with activity limitation due to mental health problems. Demographic changes had a marginal impact on the time trends.


          In contrast to the ongoing international debate regarding increased depression rates in western countries, we found no increase in overall MDD prevalence in Germany over a long period. In conclusion, increased depression frequencies in national health insurance data and growing health care costs associated with depression are not attributable to overall prevalence changes at a population level. However, shifted age distribution and increased severity among women may reflect a rising depression risk within this specific subgroup, and changes in health-related correlates indicate a growing mental health care need for depression, particularly among men.

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          The online version of this article (10.1186/s12888-018-1973-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 48

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          The World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative version of the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI)

          This paper presents an overview of the World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative version of the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and a discussion of the methodological research on which the development of the instrument was based. The WMH‐CIDI includes a screening module and 40 sections that focus on diagnoses (22 sections), functioning (four sections), treatment (two sections), risk factors (four sections), socio‐demographic correlates (seven sections), and methodological factors (two sections). Innovations compared to earlier versions of the CIDI include expansion of the diagnostic sections, a focus on 12‐month as well as lifetime disorders in the same interview, detailed assessment of clinical severity, and inclusion of information on treatment, risk factors, and consequences. A computer‐assisted version of the interview is available along with a direct data entry software system that can be used to keypunch responses to the paper‐and‐pencil version of the interview. Computer programs that generate diagnoses are also available based on both ICD‐10 and DSM‐IV criteria. Elaborate CD‐ROM‐based training materials are available to teach interviewers how to administer the interview as well as to teach supervisors how to monitor the quality of data collection. Copyright © 2004 Whurr Publishers Ltd.
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            Reliability and validity studies of the WHO--Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI): a critical review.

            This paper reviews reliability and validity studies of the WHO - Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). The CIDI is a comprehensive and fully standardized diagnostic interview designed for assessing mental disorders according to the definitions of the Diagnostic Criteria for Research of ICD-10 and DSM-III-R. The instrument contains 276 symptom questions many of which are coupled with probe questions to evaluate symptom severity, as well as questions for assessing help-seeking behavior, psychosocial impairments, and other episode-related questions. Although primarily intended for use in epidemiological studies of mental disorders, it is also being used extensively for clinical and other research purposes. The review documents the wide spread use of the instrument and discusses several test-retest and interrater reliability studies of the CIDI. Both types of studies have confirmed good to excellent Kappa coefficients for most diagnostic sections. In international multicenter studies as well as several smaller center studies the CIDI was judged to be acceptable for most subjects and was found to be appropriate for use in different kinds of settings and countries. There is however still a need for reliability studies in general population samples, the area the CIDI was primary intended for. Only a few selected aspects of validity have been examined so far, mostly in smaller selected clinical samples. The need for further procedural validity studies of the CIDI with clinical instruments such as the SCAN as well as cognitive validation studies is emphasized. The latter should focus on specific aspects, such as the use of standardized questions in the elderly, cognitive probes to improve recall of episodes and their timing, as well as the role of order effects in the presentation of diagnostic sections.
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              Evolution of public attitudes about mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

              To explore whether the increase in knowledge about the biological correlates of mental disorders over the last decades has translated into improved public understanding of mental illness, increased readiness to seek mental health care and more tolerant attitudes towards mentally ill persons. A systematic review of all studies on mental illness-related beliefs and attitudes in the general population published before 31 March 2011, examining the time trends of attitudes with a follow-up interval of at least 2 years and using national representative population samples. A subsample of methodologically homogeneous studies was further included in a meta-regression analysis of time trends. Thirty-three reports on 16 studies on national time trends met our inclusion criteria, six of which were eligible for a meta-regression analysis. Two major trends emerged: there was a coherent trend to greater mental health literacy, in particular towards a biological model of mental illness, and greater acceptance of professional help for mental health problems. In contrast, however, no changes or even changes to the worse were observed regarding the attitudes towards people with mental illness. Increasing public understanding of the biological correlates of mental illness seems not to result in better social acceptance of persons with mental illness. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

                Author and article information

                +49 (0)30/ 18 754-3664 , BretschneiderJ@rki.de
                BMC Psychiatry
                BMC Psychiatry
                BMC Psychiatry
                BioMed Central (London )
                20 December 2018
                20 December 2018
                : 18
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0940 3744, GRID grid.13652.33, Unit 26 Mental Health, Department of Epidemiology and Health Monitoring, , Robert Koch-Institute, ; Berlin, Germany
                [2 ]Psychologische Hochschule Berlin, Berlin, Germany
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2218 4662, GRID grid.6363.0, Institute of Public Health, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, ; Berlin, Germany
                © The Author(s). 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100003107, Bundesministerium für Gesundheit;
                Award ID: ZMV1-2516-FSB-703
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2018


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