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Addressing the growing burden of mental diseases is a public health priority. Nevertheless, many countries lack reliable estimates of the proportion of the population affected, which are crucial for health and social policy planning. This study aimed to collect existing evidence on the prevalence of mental diseases in Austria.
A systematic review was conducted using MeSH, EMTREE and free-text terms in seven bibliographic databases. In addition, the references of included papers and relevant Austria-specific websites were searched. Articles published after 1996 pertaining to the Austrian adult population and presenting prevalence data for mental diseases were included in the analysis.
A total of 2612 records were identified in the database search, 19 of which were included in the analysis, 13 were community-based studies and 6 examined institutionalized populations. Sample sizes ranged from 200 to 15,474. The evidence was centered around depression (n = 6, 32%), eating disorders (n = 4, 21%) and alcohol dependence (n = 3, 16%). While most studies (n = 10, 53%) used questionnaires and scales to identify mental diseases, seven studies used structured clinical interviews, and two studies examined use of psychotropic drugs. Due to the diversity of methodologies, no statistical pooling of prevalence estimates was possible.
Information on the prevalence of mental diseases in Austria is limited and comparability between studies is restricted. A variety of diagnostic instruments, targeted populations and investigated diseases contribute to discrepancies in the prevalence rates. A systematic, large-scale study on the prevalence of mental diseases in Austria is needed for comprehensive and robust epidemiological evidence.