The relationship between mental disorders and actual and desired subjective social status

Y. A. de Vries*, M. ten Have, R. de Graaf, S. van Dorsselaer, N. M. P. de Ruiter, P. de Jonge

*Corresponding author for this work

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Mental disorders are associated with lower subjective social status (SSS), but a more nuanced understanding of this relationship is needed. We examined the influence of disorder age of onset and recency on SSS and studied whether mental disorders are also associated with the discrepancy between actual and desired SSS.Method Data are from the baseline and second wave of the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2 (NEMESIS-2). Mental disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI 3.0), while both actual and desired SSS were assessed with a ten-rung ladder. Linear regression was used to examine the association between mental disorders and SSS.Results Of 5303 participants, 2237 had a lifetime mental disorder at baseline. These participants reported significantly lower actual SSS (6.28) at follow-up than healthy participants (6.66, B = -0.38 [95% CI -0.48 to -0.27], p < 0.001) and a significantly greater actual-desired SSS discrepancy (1.14 v. 1.05 after controlling for actual SSS, B = 0.09 [0.01-0.17], p = 0.024). Lower age of onset of the first mental disorder was marginally significantly associated with lower actual SSS (B = 0.006 [0.000-0.012], p = 0.046). More recent disorders were also associated with lower actual SSS (B = 0.015 [0.005-0.026], p = 0.005), such that participants whose disorder remitted a ≥6 years before baseline were statistically indistinguishable from healthy participants.Conclusions Lifetime mental disorders are associated with lower actual SSS and a slightly greater discrepancy between actual and desired SSS. However, people with mental disorders in (long-term) remission have a similar social status as healthy participants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere83
JournalEpidemiology and psychiatric sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders/psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Social Class
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological/psychology

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