What is Comorbidity and Why Does it Occur?

Degenhardt, Louisa, Hall, Wayne and Lynskey, Michael (2003). What is Comorbidity and Why Does it Occur?. In Maree Teesson and Heather Proudfoot (Ed.), Comorbid Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders: Epidemiology, Prevention and Treatment (pp. 10-25) Canberra, A.C.T.: Dept. of Health and Ageing (Commonwealth).

Author Degenhardt, Louisa
Hall, Wayne
Lynskey, Michael
Title of chapter What is Comorbidity and Why Does it Occur?
Title of book Comorbid Mental Disorders and Substance Use Disorders: Epidemiology, Prevention and Treatment
Place of Publication Canberra, A.C.T.
Publisher Dept. of Health and Ageing (Commonwealth)
Publication Year 2003
Sub-type Other
Year available 2003
ISBN 064282424X
Editor Maree Teesson
Heather Proudfoot
Chapter number 2
Start page 10
End page 25
Total pages 16
Total chapters 8
Language eng
Subjects 111706 Epidemiology
111714 Mental Health
Formatted Abstract/Summary

Comorbidity can be defined most generally as the co-occurrence of two or more
mental health problems. It has emerged as a major clinical, public health and
research issue over the past few decades. This is due in part to changes in psychiatric
nomenclature, in which there is a greater focus upon elucidating any number of
mental health problems with which an individual might present, rather than
diagnosing one problem to the exclusion of others.

Currently, mental health problems are conceptualised as patterns of behaviour or
thought that are associated with significant disability, distress, loss of individual
freedom, or adverse events such as death; and which arise from dysfunction within
the individual (Neugebauer, 1999). These problems can encompass a wide range of
behaviours including substance use, mood disturbances, anxiety, and disturbances in
thought and perception.

According to current classification systems in psychology and psychiatry, mental
disorders are diagnosed according to operationalised diagnostic criteria, and the
diagnosis of one disorder does not necessarily preclude the diagnosis of another
(American Psychiatric Association, 1994;World Health Organisation, 1993). In
some cases, more than one mental disorder is diagnosed — such comorbidity is
examined in this chapter. Specifically, this chapter will define the concept of
comorbidity; discuss the implications of comorbidity for theories of mental health,
treatment and prevention; give a brief overview of epidemiological research into
comorbidity; and examine the reasons why comorbidity might occur.
Q-Index Code BX
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

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Created: Wed, 01 Apr 2009, 22:11:26 EST by Mary-Anne Marrington on behalf of School of Public Health