A Mental Health-Physical Health-Violence (MPV) Syndemic Factor in Women with Mental Disorders

Stigma Health. 2019 Nov;4(4):383-390. doi: 10.1037/sah0000152. Epub 2018 Sep 27.


This study extended research on syndemics for women with mental disorders by including self-reported mental and physical health conditions. Syndemics explain complex relationships among co-occurring conditions, and the social circumstances that influence their overlap. Data were from the baseline assessment of a randomized trial of Healthy Home, a nursing home-visit intervention for women with children. 172 adult women who were in mental health or substance use treatment completed measures (in Spanish or English) of anxiety, depression, violence during adulthood, physical health, and cigarette use. Structural Equation Modeling was used to evaluate a single-factor syndemic, and to test the relationships of theoretical predictors of the syndemic: income, number of children, women’s abuse during childhood, mental health stigma, social support, and stress. Results supported a single factor syndemic model that explained variation in mental health, physical health, and violence during adulthood. Stress, β = .45, p < .001, and stigma, β = .22, p = .007, were related to the syndemic factor. There was evidence that self-reported mental and physical health share covariation, which suggested that integrated services for women with mental disorders may have synergistic effects on health. Findings suggest the need to develop and test interventions that address stress and stigma as a means of reducing health disparities for women with mental disorders.

PMID:33094162 | PMC:PMC7575040 | DOI:10.1037/sah0000152