Determine the prevalence of serious psychological distress (SPD) among adults with and without chronic medical conditions and examine the association between SPD and health-related quality of life (HRQOL).
Cross-sectional data from the 2005 Los Angeles County Health Survey were used to estimate prevalence of SPD. The association between SPD and HRQOL was evaluated using logistic regression and analysis of covariance, adjusting for sociodemographic variables and number of chronic conditions.
SPD was significantly associated with younger age, lower income, being unemployed or disabled, being unmarried, fair or poor health, and having one or more chronic conditions. Adults with three or more chronic conditions were six times as likely to have SPD as those with no conditions. Adults with SPD reported significantly more unhealthy days (mental and physical) and activity limitation days than adults without SPD. The adjusted mean number of unhealthy days was highest among adults with SPD (23.3), followed by adults with depression (14.1), and diabetes (10.6).
SPD is associated with decreased HRQOL and presence of chronic medical conditions. Mental health should be routinely assessed when addressing health needs of individuals and communities. Persons with chronic diseases may benefit from targeted mental health screening and programs that employ treatment approaches that jointly manage physical and mental health and provide improved links and access to services.