Back to basics: Informing the public of co-morbid physical health problems in those with mental illness

Ahire, M., Sheridan, J., Regbetz, S., Stacey, P., & Scott, J. G. (2012) Back to basics: Informing the public of co-morbid physical health problems in those with mental illness. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 47(2), pp. 177-184.

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Those with mental illness are at increased risk of physical health problems. The current study aimed to examine the information available online to the Australian public about the increased risk and consequences of physical illness in those with mental health problems and the services available to address these co-morbidities. METHODS:

A structured online search was conducted with the search engine Google Australia ( using generic search terms 'mental health information Australia', 'mental illness information Australia', 'depression', 'anxiety', and 'psychosis'. The direct content of websites was examined for information on the physical co-morbidities of mental illness. All external links on high-profile websites [the first five websites retrieved under each search term (n = 25)] were examined for information pertaining to physical health. RESULTS:

Only 4.2% of websites informing the public about mental health contained direct content information about the increased risk of physical co-morbidities. The Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing site did not contain any information. Of the high-profile websites, 62% had external links to resources about physical health and 55% had recommendations or resources for physical health. Most recommendations were generic. CONCLUSIONS:

Relative to the seriousness of this problem, there is a paucity of information available to the public about the increased physical health risks associated with mental illness. Improved public awareness is the starting point of addressing this health inequity.

Impact and interest:

4 citations in Scopus
4 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 66082
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Mental health, mental illness, physical comorbidity, ehealth
DOI: 10.1177/0004867412450753
ISSN: 1440-1614
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Mental Health (111714)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Sage Publications
Deposited On: 13 Jan 2014 02:12
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2014 22:59

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