Mental disorders among persons with chronic back or neck pain: Results from the world mental health surveys

Koen Demyttenaere, Ronny Bruffaerts, Sing Lee, José Posada-Villa, Vivianne Kovess, Matthias C. Angermeyer, Daphna Levinson, Giovanni de Girolamo, Hideyuki Nakane, Zeina Mneimneh, Carmen Lara, Ron de Graaf, Kate Margaret Scott, Oye Gureje, Dan J. Stein, Josep Maria Haro, Evelyn J. Bromet, Ronald C. Kessler, Jordi Alonso, Michael Von Korff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports cross-national data concerning back or neck pain comorbidity with mental disorders. We assessed (a) the prevalence of chronic back/neck pain, (b) the prevalence of mental disorders among people with chronic back/neck pain, (c) which mental disorder had strongest associations with chronic back/neck pain, and (d) whether these associations are consistent across countries. Population surveys of community-dwelling adults were carried out in 17 countries in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific (N = 85,088). Mental disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, third version (CIDI 3.0): anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder/agoraphobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder), mood disorders (major depression and dysthymia), and alcohol abuse or dependence. Back/neck pain was ascertained by self-report. Between 10% and 42% reported chronic back/neck pain in the previous 12 months. After adjusting for age and sex, mental disorders were more common among persons with back/neck pain than among persons without. The pooled odds ratios were 2.3 [95% CI = 2.1-2.5] for mood disorders, 2.2 [95% CI = 2.1-2.4] for anxiety disorders, and 1.6 [95% CI = 1.4-1.9] for alcohol abuse/dependence in people with versus without chronic back/neck pain. Although prevalence rates of back/neck pain were generally lower than in previous reports, mental disorders were associated with chronic back/neck pain. The strength of association was stronger for mood and anxiety disorders than for alcohol abuse/dependence. The association of mental disorders with back/neck pain showed a consistent pattern across both developed and developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-342
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007


  • Chronic back or neck pain
  • Cross-national survey
  • Mental disorders
  • Prevalence
  • World mental health surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Psychology


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