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Mental health in UK Biobank - development, implementation and results from an online questionnaire completed by 157 366 participants: a reanalysis

Davis, K. A. S., Coleman, J. R. I., Adams, M., Allen, N., Breen, G., Cullen, B., Dickens, C., Fox, E., Graham, N., Holliday, J., Howard, L. M., John, A., Lee, W., McCabe, R. ORCID: 0000-0003-2041-7383, McIntosh, A., Pearsall, R., Smith, D. J., Sudlow, C., Ward, J., Zammit, S. and Hotopf, M. (2020). Mental health in UK Biobank - development, implementation and results from an online questionnaire completed by 157 366 participants: a reanalysis. BJPsych Open, 6(2), e18. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2019.100

Abstract

Background
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential.

Aims
Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire.

Method
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting a patient group. Operational criteria were agreed for defining likely disorder and risk states, including lifetime depression, mania/hypomania, generalised anxiety disorder, unusual experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and hazardous/harmful alcohol use.

Results
A total of 157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Participants were aged 45–82 (53% were ≥65 years) and 57% women. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status. Lifetime depression was a common finding, with 24% (37 434) of participants meeting criteria and current hazardous/harmful alcohol use criteria were met by 21% (32 602), whereas other criteria were met by less than 8% of the participants. There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with a high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.

Conclusions
The UK Biobank questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed because of selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Mental health; UK Biobank; cohort study; depressive disorders; alcohol disorders
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/24012
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