The relationship between chronic physical conditions, multimorbidity and anxiety in the general population: A global perspective across 42 countries

Davy Vancampfort, Ai Koyanagi, Mats Hallgren, Michel Probst, Brendon Stubbs
General Hospital Psychiatry 2017, 45: 1-6

OBJECTIVE: This cross-sectional study assessed the association of chronic physical conditions and multimorbidity with anxiety among community-dwelling adults in 42 countries.

METHOD: Data were analyzed from the World Health Survey including 181,845 adults aged ≥18years. Anxiety in the past 30days and nine chronic physical conditions (angina, arthritis, asthma, chronic back pain, diabetes, edentulism, hearing problem, tuberculosis, and visual impairment) were assessed. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to explore the associations between chronic physical conditions or the number of them and anxiety.

RESULTS: After adjustment for confounders, most of the individual chronic physical conditions were significantly associated with anxiety. Compared to those with no physical health conditions, one condition was associated with an almost twofold increased odds of anxiety symptoms (OR=1.94; 95%CI=1.76-2.13), while this figure rose to 5.49 (3.73-8.09) in those with ≥5 conditions.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that increasing numbers of chronic physical conditions are associated with higher odds for anxiety. Health care providers should consider the presence of anxiety symptoms especially in individuals with physical multimorbidity.

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