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November 1983

Social Functioning of Psychiatric Patients in Contrast With Community Cases in the General Population

Author Affiliations

From the School of Public Health (Drs B. S. Dohrenwend and Link) and the Department of Psychiatry (Dr B. P. Dohrenwend), Columbia University, New York; and the School of Public Health of the Hadassah Medical Organization, Jerusalem (Dr Levav).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983;40(11):1174-1182. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790100020002

• Most cases in epidemiologic surveys of community populations have never been treated by mental health professionals. We studied how community cases and patients may be similar or different with respect to their social functioning in such areas as work, marriage, and parenting. There are grounds for two contrasting hypotheses: the universal hypothesis (disorder is accompanied by disability independently of treatment status) and the patient-specific hypothesis (disorder is accompanied by disability only for cases who become patients). We investigated these hypotheses using data from symptom scales and social functioning scales that are part of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Interview. The sample consisted of 205 adults from the general population and 204 psychiatric patients from Jerusalem. The results provided some support for each hypothesis depending on the types of symptoms and functioning and disorder involved; however, the relationship between symptoms and social functioning in patients as well as cases from the community was weaker than had been supposed.

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