STUDY OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that poor material standard of living is independently associated with the prevalence of the common mental disorders after adjusting for occupational social class, and to estimate the population impact of poor material standard of living on the prevalence of these disorders. DESIGN: Cross sectional survey. Prevalence of the common mental disorders was assessed using the General Health Questionnaire, a self administered measure of psychiatric morbidity. PARTICIPANTS: 9064 adults aged 16-75 living in private households in England, Wales, and Scotland. MAIN RESULTS: The common mental disorders were significantly associated with poor material standard of living, including low household income (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.00, 1.54) and not saving from income (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.15, 1.45), after adjusting for occupational social class and other potential confounders. An independent association was also found with occupational social class of the head of household among women, but not men, after adjusting for material standard of living. The adjusted population attributable fraction for poor material standard of living (using a five item index) was 24.0%. CONCLUSIONS: Like mortality and physical morbidity, common mental disorders are associated with a poor material standard of living, independent of occupational social class. These findings support the view that recent widening of inequalities in material standards of living in the United Kingdom pose a substantial threat to health.
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