Common methods of assessing mental or physical disorders may consistently underestimate the prevalence of mental disorders among middle-aged and older adults, a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found.
The analysis, led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Yoichiro Takayanagi, and published in the January 8 online edition of JAMA Psychiatry, reveals substantial discrepancies among mid-life and late-life adults in reporting past mental health disorders, including depression, compared with physical disorders such as arthritis and hypertension.
“The takeaway is that lifetime estimates based on [participant] recall in cross-sectional surveys underestimate the occurrences of mental disorders over the lifetime,” said Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, MPH, MA, associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health and senior author of the study.
The findings are believed to be the first to examine retrospective evaluations versus cumulative assessments among older adults. Recent studies of adolescent and young adults have also found discrepancies in prevalence estimates of common mental disorders between retrospective reports versus multiple assessments over time.
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