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Comorbidity and Labor Force Activity Among People With Psychiatric Disorders

Waghorn, Geoff PhD; Chant, David PhD; Jonsdottir, Annika BSc

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 1 - p 68–73
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182028f91
Original Articles

Objective: Comorbidity among people with psychiatric disorders with respect to other health conditions is extensive yet is rarely explored in-depth in occupational studies. We investigated how other ICD-10 comorbidity impacted on the labor force activity of people with psychiatric disorders.

Methods: A secondary analysis of data files was conducted provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from a 2003 population survey (N = 36,088). The reference group was working age community residents without long-term health conditions.

Results: Comorbidity with a broad range of ICD-10 health conditions can be characterized by both type and extent of comorbidity. Both dimensions are needed to explain impacts on labor force activity.

Conclusions: Health professionals, policymakers, and administrators can utilize these results to identify people with psychiatric disorders and comorbidity profiles most likely to need more intensive vocational services.

From the Policy and Economics Group (Dr Waghorn and Ms Jonsdottir), Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR), School of Population Health, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Geoff Waghorn, PhD, The Park, Centre for Mental Health, Wacol, (via Brisbane) Queensland 4076, Australia (

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine