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March 1981

Incidence of Mental Illness-Reply

Author Affiliations

National Institute of Mental Health; Division of Biometry and Epidemiology National Institute of Mental Health 5600 Fishers Lane Rockville, MD 20857

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(3):365. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780280133020

In Reply.—  I regret that Dr Paul failed to check the references to the article "Future Needs for Psychiatrists and Other Mental Health Personnel" (Archives 1979;36:1401-1408) before asserting that National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates of the prevalence of mental disorder are too high. Had he done so, he would have found that careful attention was accorded to a wide range of epidemiological and service research studies of general medical practices.1 Instead, we are referred to one of his reports, which was a secondary analysis of eight general practitioner studies that found a 10% to 15% range for "emotional illness" (the upper limit being identical with the NIMH estimate). A more comprehensive review of 400 such studies found a wide prevalence variation of 0.3% to 50%, with the majority in the 10% to 20% range.2In this regard, reference should be made to methodological variations that account for differences

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