Cross-sectional Comparison of the Epidemiology of DSM-5 Generalized Anxiety Disorder Across the Globe

Publication Name: 
JAMA Psychiatry
Publication Authors: 
Ruscio AM, Hallion LS, Lim CC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Al-Hamzawi A et al
HCP Authors:
Date of Publication: 
Mar 2017

Abstract

IMPORTANCE:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is poorly understood compared with other anxiety disorders, and debates persist about the seriousness of this disorder. Few data exist on GAD outside a small number of affluent, industrialized nations. No population-based data exist on GAD as it is currently defined in DSM-5.

OBJECTIVE:

To provide the first epidemiologic data on DSM-5 GAD and explore cross-national differences in its prevalence, course, correlates, and impact.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

Data come from the World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey Initiative. Cross-sectional general population surveys were carried out in 26 countries using a consistent research protocol and assessment instrument. A total of 147 261 adults from representative household samples were interviewed face-to-face in the community. The surveys were conducted between 2001 and 2012. Data analysis was performed from July 22, 2015, to December 12, 2016.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:

The Composite International Diagnostic Interview was used to assess GAD along with comorbid disorders, role impairment, and help seeking.

RESULTS:

Respondents were 147 261 adults aged 18 to 99 years. The surveys had a weighted mean response rate of 69.5%. Across surveys, DSM-5 GAD had a combined lifetime prevalence (SE) of 3.7% (0.1%), 12-month prevalence of 1.8% (0.1%), and 30-day prevalence of 0.8% (0). Prevalence estimates varied widely across countries, with lifetime prevalence highest in high-income countries (5.0% [0.1%]), lower in middle-income countries (2.8% [0.1%]), and lowest in low-income countries (1.6% [0.1%]). Generalized anxiety disorder typically begins in adulthood and persists over time, although onset is later and clinical course is more persistent in lower-income countries. Lifetime comorbidity is high (81.9% [0.7%]), particularly with mood (63.0% [0.9%]) and other anxiety (51.7% [0.9%]) disorders. Severe role impairment is common across life domains (50.6% [1.2%]), particularly in high-income countries. Treatment is sought by approximately half of affected individuals (49.2% [1.2%]), especially those with severe role impairment (59.4% [1.8%]) or comorbid disorders (55.8% [1.4%]) and those living in high-income countries (59.0% [1.3%]).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:

The findings of this study show that DSM-5 GAD is more prevalent than DSM-IV GAD and is associated with substantial role impairment. The disorder is especially common and impairing in high-income countries despite a negative association between GAD and socioeconomic status within countries. These results underscore the public health significance of GAD across the globe while uncovering cross-national differences in prevalence, course, and impairment that require further investigation.

View the Article