Mental distress in the Danish general population


Lis Raabaek Olsen, Roersangervej 16, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark.


Objective:  To present data on mental distress in the Danish general population using recently validated Hopkins symptom checklist (SCL) subscales and compare with data from other countries. To evaluate associations between mental distress and biopsychosocial factors.

Method:  Questionnaires were sent to a gender- and age-stratified random sample comprising 2040 Danes. Mean SCL subscale scores were calculated. Cases were defined in accordance with the traditional criteria, and Danish and US raw score cut-offs were compared. A multiple regression model was developed to describe associations between biopsychosocial factors and SCL scores.

Results:  The response rate was 58%. The Danish mean scores were significantly higher than reported for a US non-patient sample, and Danish raw score cut-offs for caseness were higher. The Danish scores were closer to Nordic mean scores. Age, gender, social status, somatic disorder and traumatic life events in the past year in work life as well as personal life were significantly associated with the level of mental distress. SCL scores were compared with scores on the Major Depression Inventory.

Conclusion:  The SCL mean scores of the Danish general population were relatively high, but similar to data from the Nordic countries. Consequently, interpretation of the Danish SCL requires Danish norms and Danish cut-off scores for caseness.