TitleAssociation between psychological distress and mortality: individual participant pooled analysis of 10 prospective cohort studies.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRuss, TC, Stamatakis, E, Hamer, M, Starr, JM, Kivimäki, M, Batty, GD
Date Published07/2012
KeywordsAdult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cause of Death, England, Female, Health Surveys, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Stress, Psychological, Surveys and Questionnaires

OBJECTIVE: To quantify the link between lower, subclinically symptomatic, levels of psychological distress and cause-specific mortality in a large scale, population based study.

DESIGN: Individual participant meta-analysis of 10 large prospective cohort studies from the Health Survey for England. Baseline psychological distress measured by the 12 item General Health Questionnaire score, and mortality from death certification.

PARTICIPANTS: 68,222 people from general population samples of adults aged 35 years and over, free of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and living in private households in England at study baseline.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Death from all causes (n = 8365), cardiovascular disease including cerebrovascular disease (n = 3382), all cancers (n = 2552), and deaths from external causes (n = 386). Mean follow-up was 8.2 years (standard deviation 3.5).

RESULTS: We found a dose-response association between psychological distress across the full range of severity and an increased risk of mortality (age and sex adjusted hazard ratio for General Health Questionnaire scores of 1-3 v score 0: 1.20, 95% confidence interval 1.13 to 1.27; scores 4-6: 1.43, 1.31 to 1.56; and scores 7-12: 1.94, 1.66 to 2.26; P<0.001 for trend). This association remained after adjustment for somatic comorbidity plus behavioural and socioeconomic factors. A similar association was found for cardiovascular disease deaths and deaths from external causes. Cancer death was only associated with psychological distress at higher levels.

CONCLUSIONS: Psychological distress is associated with increased risk of mortality from several major causes in a dose-response pattern. Risk of mortality was raised even at lower levels of distress.

Alternate JournalBMJ
PubMed ID22849956
PubMed Central IDPMC3409083
Grant ListG19/35 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
G0100222 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
/ / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
/ / Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council / United Kingdom
RG/10/005/28296 / / British Heart Foundation / United Kingdom
G8802774 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
G0902037 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
G0700704 / / Medical Research Council / United Kingdom
/ / Chief Scientist Office / United Kingdom
R01AG034454 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01HL036310 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
/ / Wellcome Trust / United Kingdom
RG/07/008/23674 / / British Heart Foundation / United Kingdom