Mental health in UK Biobank - development, implementation and results from an online questionnaire completed by 157,366 participants
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Copyright and usage: © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2017. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.
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Background: UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500,000 participants that offers unique opportunities to investigate multiple diseases and risk factors. An online mental health questionnaire completed by UK Biobank participants expands the potential for research into mental disorders. Methods: An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting with a service user group regarding acceptability. Case definitions were defined using operational criteria for lifetime depression, mania, anxiety disorder, psychotic-like experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and alcohol use disorders. Results: 157,366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status than the general population across a range of indicators. Thirty-five percent (55,750) of participants had at least one defined syndrome, of which lifetime depression was the most common at 24% (37,434). There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated measures of deprivation. Conclusions: The questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed due to selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
This paper represents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. In addition, individual authors have declared the following funding: MA is supported by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award (Reference 10436/Z/14/Z). BC is funded by the Scottish Executive Chief Scientist Office (DTF/14/03) and by The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation. EF is supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no: . LMH is supported by an NIHR Research Professorship (NIHR-RP-R3-12-011) in Women’s Mental Health. AJ is funded by the Farr Institute and HCRW (CA-04). WL is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula. AM is supported by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award (Reference 10436/Z/14/Z). DS receives funding from a Lister Institute Prize Fellowship (2016-2021). SZ is supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Bristol.
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