An epidemiological study of NA in Chinese-Americans in Los Angeles

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This study examined the prevalence and clinical features of

ICD-10-defined neurasthenia (NT) in Chinese-Americans and its

relations to other psychiatric disorders. In this community

epidemiological survey, the enhanced Composite International

Diagnostic Interview [CIDI], with a supplemental NT module,

was administered to 1,747 Chinese-Americans, selected with a

stratified cluster sampling method. The SCL-90-R was also used

for measuring psychiatric morbidity and symptoms. Dimensions

of social stress and social support were measured by

established instruments. A total of 112 ICD-10 NT subjects

(6.4%) were identified. Of these, 63 (56.3%) did not

experience any current and lifetime DSM-III-R diagnoses,

yielding a 12-month or lifetime prevalence rate of “pure” NT

of 3.61%. This rate was much higher than any of the other

psychiatric disorders in this sample. Compared with normal

subjects, “pure” NT subjects had significantly higher SCL-90-R

total and factor scores, experienced more psychosocial stress,

and perceived less social support (P < .05 or .01). Compared

with subjects with depression and anxiety disorders, “pure” NT

cases reported significantly less SCL-90-R psychological

symptoms (P < .05 or .01), but had a strikingly similar

elevation in the somatization subscale score. These data

suggest that NT is a distinctive clinical condition

overlapping only partially with the other better recognized

diagnostic entities. In view of its high prevalence and the

salience of its impact on the health of those afflicted, it is

imperative that concerted research efforts be made to further

elucidate the temporal stability, natural course, and outcome

of such a condition.

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