Disability and psychological distress in nine countries of the former Soviet Union

Andrew Stickley, Naoki Kondo, Bayard Roberts, Kseniya Kizilova, Kyle Waldman, Hans Oh, Yosuke Inoue, Jae Il Shin, Tom Shakespeare, Martin McKee

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: People with disabilities (PWD) are at increased risk of poor mental health. However, this association and the pathways involved remain under-researched in many parts of the world. This study examined the association between disability and psychological distress in nine countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU). Methods: Data were analysed from 18,000 adults aged ≥18 years collected during the Health in Times of Transition (HITT) survey undertaken in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine in 2010 and 2011. Information was obtained on disability status, the severity of the disability and psychological distress. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate associations. Results: In a fully adjusted combined country analysis, disability was associated with over two times higher odds for psychological distress (odds ratio [OR]: 2.19, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.86-2.58). The strength of the association varied across the individual countries. Among PWD more severe disability was associated with significantly higher odds for psychological distress (OR: 2.12, 95%CI: 1.26-3.55). Limitations: The data were cross-sectional and disability status was self-reported, possibly resulting in underreporting. Conclusions: Disability is associated with worse psychological health in FSU countries, especially among those with more severe disabilities. As poor mental health may also increase the risk of negative outcomes in PWD, this finding highlights the importance of the early detection and treatment of mental disorders in PWD in these countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-787
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The HITT study was funded by the European Commission's Framework 7 programme, Grant agreement ID: 223344. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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