Project Descriptions > Management of Comorbidity of Mental and Physical Disorders

Management of Comorbidity of Mental and Physical disorders

People with mental disorders often suffer from physical illness. This fact is insufficiently emphasized resulting in sub-optimal care and, in many instances, increased mortality. Similarly, people in treatment for a physical illness often have (unrecognized) mental illnesses. These are often not given much attention, leading to a longer duration and poorer prognosis of both the mental and physical illnesses.

The Association has therefore decided to devote a part of its activity to the recognition of the importance and possible action regarding problems related to comorbid mental and physical illnesses.

Until now, the Association has been instrumental in the publication of the following review of evidence:

a) Books

  • Leucht S, Burkard T, Henderson J.H, Maj M, Sartorius N. (2007) Physical Illness and Schizophrenia: A Review of Evidence, Cambridge University Press (ISBN 978-0-521-88264-4)
  • Maj M, Sartorius N, Tasman A, Gureje O (eds) (2008) The WPA Educational Series on Depressive Disorders. Revision of 2008. Volume II: Physical Illness and Depression; World Psychiatric Association, Geneva.
  • Katon W, Maj M, Sartorius N (2010) Depression and Diabetes. Wiley-Blackwell ISBN 978-0-470-68838-0
  • Glassman A, Maj M, Sartorius N (2010). Depression and Heart Disease. Wiley-Blackwell (ISBN 978-0-470-71057-9)
  • O’Hara, J McCarthy, J & Bouras N (eds) (2010) Intellectual Disability and Ill Health: A Review of Evidence. ISBN 978-0-521-72889-8. Cambridge University Press
  • Gordon A.J (2010). Physical illness and drugs of abuse: a review of the evidence. Cambridge University Press (ISBN 978-0-521-13347-0)
  • Kissane DW, Maj M, Sartorius N (2011) Depression and Cancer. Wiley-Blackwell (ISBN 978-0-470-68966-0)
  • Sartorius N, Holt R.I.G., Maj M. (eds.) (2015). Comorbidity of Mental and Physical Disorders. Karger, Vol. 179, 188p, (ISBN 9 783318 026030)
  • Kurrle S, Brodaty H and Hogarth R. (2012) Physical Comorbidities of Dementia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK
  • Sartorius N, Holt R.I.G., Maj M, (2015) Comorbidity of Mental and Physical Disorders. Karger Publications, Basel, Switzerland

The information presented in the books by Katon et al., Glassman et al. and Kissane et al. has also been presented in sets of slides suitable for teaching purposes and these slides were included in the WPA Educational Materials. They can be freely downloaded from the WPA website.

b) Articles

  • Leucht S, Burkard T, Henderson J, Maj M, Sartorius N. (2007) Physical illness and schizophrenia: a review of the literature. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 116:317-333.
  • Sartorius N, (2013) Comorbidity of mental and physical diseases: a main challenge for medicine of the 21st century.  Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry, Apr; 25(2): 68-69.  
  • Chew-Graham C, Sartorius N, Cimino LC, Gask L. (2014) Diabetes and depression in general practice:  meeting the challenge of managing comorbidity. Br J Gen Pract.  64(625):386-7. https://doi: 10.3399/bjgp14X680809
  • Chen C, Si TM, Xiang YT, Ungvari GS, Wang CY, He. YL, Kua EH, Fujii S, Sim K, Trivedi JK, Chung EK, Udomratn P, Chee KY, Sartorius N, Tan CH, Shinfuku N. (2015) Prevalence and prescription of antidepressants in depression with somatic comorbidity in Asia:  The Research on East Asian Psychotropic Prescription Patterns study. Chin Med J. (Engl)128(7): 853-8. Doi 10.4103/0366.6999.154272.
  • Fiorillo A, Sartorius N. (2021) Mortality gap and physical comorbidity of people with severe mentla disorders: the public health scandal.  Annals of General Psychiatry. 20:52.
  • Heinze G, Sartorius N, Sanchez DPG, Bernard-Fuentes B, Cawthorpe D, Cimino L, Cohen D, Lecic-Tosevski D, Filipcvic I, Lloyd C, Mohan I, Ndetei D, Poyurovsky M, Rbbamo G, Starostina E, Yifeng W, EstefaniaLimon L.  (2021) Integration of mentla health comorbidity in medical specialty programs in 20 countries.  The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, Vol. 56(4) 278-293   

c) Webinars and lectures

In addition to producing publications, AIMHP has organized a number of symposia and workshops dealing with comorbidity of mental and physical disorders, usually in conjunction with major scientific international meetings.

In 2019, the president of AMH has been entrusted with the Chairmanship of the WPA Action Plan Working Group on Comorbidity. The Group developed several symposia and training courses presented at the World Congresses of Psychiatry and organized two Webinars on the topic in 2022. The webinars are available on the WPA website, in among its educational materials.

d) Educational Materials

In addition to the slide sets mentioned above and the webinars on the WPA website, the Association has also produced two sets of material – in hard copy and in form of a slide set concerning the recognition and management of comorbid mental and physical illness for General Partitioners: Goldberg D, Gask L, Sartorius N. (1998) Training physicians in mental health skills. Published by the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, London, UK.

e) The Diabetes and Depression program

In July 2010 The AIMHP has initiated a major international program dealing with depression and diabetes. The program brought together a number of international organizations.

  • The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
  • American Diabetes Organization
  • Association of European Psychiatrists
  • Associacion Latinoamericana de Diabetes (ALAD)
  • Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP)
  • Diabetes UK
  • European Association for the Study of Diabetes/Psychosocial Aspects of Diabetes
  • Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Network (GAMIAN) – Europe
  • International Council of Nurses
  • International Diabetes Federation
  • International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA)
  • International Society for Affective Disorders
  • International Society of Behavioral Medicine
  • Project Hope
  • World Association of Social Psychiatry
  • World Federation for Mental Health
  • World Organization of Family Doctors (Wonca)
  • World Psychiatric Association

The AIMHP organized a number of symposia, lectures, courses and workshop on dealing with comorbidity of depression in diabetes for psychiatrists and mental health service staff. The organizations listed above participated in and the conduct of these events.

The program also included a number of educational activities for General Practitioners (Belgium, China, Slovenia) and nurses (Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, south Africa and Uganda).

In addition, the AIMHP initiated and led a major international study on depression and diabetes involving centers of investigation in (Asia (China, India) Africa, South America and Europe. In all more than 3000 persons with diabetes have been included in the study involving:
14 countries (Argentina, Bangladesh, China, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Uganda and Ukraine).

© 2022 The Association for the Improvement of Mental Health