BMJ open 2018 02 168(2) e018202 doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018202
Common mental disorders (CMDs) are a major cause of the global burden of disease. Bhutan was the first country in the world to focus on happiness as a state policy; however, little is known about the prevalence and risk factors of CMDs in this setting. We aim to identify socioeconomic, religious, spiritual and health factors associated with symptoms of CMDs.
DESIGN AND SETTING
We used data from Bhutan’s 2015 Gross National Happiness (GNH) Survey, a multistage, cross-sectional nationwide household survey. Data were analysed using a hierarchical analytical framework and generalised estimating equations.
The GNH Survey included 7041 male and female respondents aged 15 years and above.
The 12-item General Health Questionnaire was used to measure symptoms of CMDs. We estimated the prevalence of CMDs using a threshold score of ≥12.
The prevalence of CMDs was 29.3% (95% CI 26.8% to 31.8%). Factors associated with symptoms of CMDs were: older age (65+) (β=1.29, 95% CI 0.57 to 2.00), being female (β=0.70, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.95), being divorced or widowed (β=1.55, 95% CI 1.08 to 2.02), illiteracy (β=0.48, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.74), low income (β=0.37, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.59), being moderately spiritual (β=0.61, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.88) or somewhat or not spiritual (β=0.76, 95% CI 0.28 to 1.23), occasionally considering karma in daily life (β=0.53, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.77) or never considering karma (β=0.80, 95% CI 0.26 to 1.34), having poor self-reported health (β=2.59, 95% CI 2.13 to 3.06) and having a disability (β=1.01, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.40).
CMDs affect a substantial proportion of the Bhutanese population. Our findings confirm the importance of established socioeconomic risk factors for CMDs, and suggest a potential link between spiritualism and mental health in this setting.