Axinn, William G., Dirgha J. Ghimire, Nathalie E. Williams, and Kate M. Scott. 2015. “Associations between the Social Organization of Communities and Psychiatric Disorders in Rural Asia.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 50(10):1537-1545.
We provide rare evidence of factors producing psychiatric variation in a general population sample from rural South Asia. The setting is particularly useful for demonstrating that variations in the social organization of communities, often difficult to observe in rich countries, are associated with important variations in mental health.
Clinically validated survey measures are used to document variation in psychiatric disorders among 401 adults. This sample is chosen from a systematic sample of the general population of rural Nepal, in a community-level-controlled comparison design. Multilevel logistic regression is used to estimate multivariate models of the association between community-level nonfamily social organization and individual-level psychiatric disorders.
Schools, markets, health services and social support groups each substantially reduce the odds of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), intermittent explosive disorder and anxiety disorders. Associations between schools, health services and social support groups and depression are statistically significant and independent of each other. The association between access to markets and PTSD is statistically significant and independent of other social organization and support groups.
Community integration of some nonfamily social organizations promotes mental health in ways that may go unobserved in settings with many such organizations. More research on the mechanisms producing these associations is likely to reveal potential avenues for public policy and programs to improve mental health in the general population.