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Common mental illness in people with sensory impairment: results from the 2014 adult psychiatric morbidity survey

Shoham, N., Lewis, G., McManus, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-2711-0819 & Cooper, C. (2019). Common mental illness in people with sensory impairment: results from the 2014 adult psychiatric morbidity survey. BJPsych Open, 5(6), article number e94. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2019.81


BACKGROUND: People with sensory impairments may be at increased risk of depression and anxiety but experience barriers to accessing treatment.

AIMS: To investigate whether people with sensory impairment have more depressive and anxiety symptoms than people without, whether this is mediated by social functioning and whether they report greater non-treatment.

METHOD: We analysed data from the English 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey using regression models, with the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised (CIS-R) score as the primary outcome and self-reported hearing and vision impairment as exposures. A secondary outcome was self-reported receipt of mental health diagnosis and treatment. We used structural equation modelling to assess for mediation by social functioning.

RESULTS: A total of 19.0% of people with hearing impairment, and 30.9% and 24.5% with distance and near visual impairments, respectively, had clinically significant psychological morbidity. Adjusted mean CIS-R score was 1.86 points higher in people with hearing impairment compared with those without (95% CI 1.30-2.42, P<0.001). People with distance and near vision impairment had mean CIS-R scores 3.61 (95% CI 2.58-4.63, P<0.001) and 2.74 (95% CI 2.12-3.37, P<0.001) points higher, respectively, than those without. Social functioning accounted for approximately 50% of these relationships between sensory impairment and psychological morbidity. We found no evidence of an increased treatment gap for people with sensory impairment.

CONCLUSIONS: Social functioning, a potentially modifiable target, may mediate an association between sensory impairment and depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2019. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
Publisher Keywords: Social functioning; anxiety disorders; depression; epidemiology; sensory impairment
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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