Comparative study of psychiatric morbidity among workers at a paint factory in Nigeria

Inspite of numerous reports on the neurobehavioural effects of
paints, there have been no such studies from Nigeria, where
there are now many paint factories. The general aim of this
study was, to assess the prevalence of specific psychiatric
morbidity among workers in a large paint manufacturing
factory. Using the Psychiatric Assessment Schedule (PAS), 60
workers (mean age, 38.1) directly involved in paint
manufacture, 60 administrative staff (mean age 41.1) in the
factory, and 60 postal workers (mean age 37.7) were assessed.
Although higher proportions of factory workers (80%), and
postal workers (73.3%) had positive PAS scores compared with
administrators (36.7%), there were no significant differences
in mean PAS scores across the groups. Two subjects each of
factory workers (agoraphobia and dysthymia) and postal workers
(dysthymia and generalised anxiety) fulfilled DSM-IIIR
criteria for specific diagnosis. However, the paint workers
had a wider spread of PAS symptoms, were significantly more
likely to experience the symptoms constituting neurasthenia,
had many more psychological complaints, experienced a wider
variety of spontaneously reported symptoms, and constituted
the most frequent users of health services. They had no
knowledge of the possible mental health effects of exposure to
paint. This level of distress is comparable to many reported
findings.

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