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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 52 (2010) 3, 133 - 142

New research

Associations between early-onset mental disorders and educational attainment in Belgium; a population study

R.P. Bruffaerts, A. Bonnewyn, K. Demyttenaere

background There is no sufficient knowledge on the association between early-onset mental disorders and subsequent school dropout on the level of the Belgian general population.
aim To investigate the associations between early-onset mental disorders and subsequent school dropout.
method As part of the European Study on the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders of the World Mental Health Surveys of the World Health Organization, a representative random sample of non-institutionalised Belgians aged 18 or older (n = 1,043) were interviewed between April 2001 and June 2002. With the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (version 3.0), respondents were assessed for the presence and age of onset of 15 dsm-iv mental disorders. Logistic regression analyses were performed in order to investigate the association between mental disorders and subsequent failure to complete elementary and/or secondary education, failure to proceed to tertiary education (when holding a secondary education leaving certificate) and failure to completion of tertiary education.
results Mood disorders were significantly associated with premature termination of secondary education (or = 2.4). Anxiety disorders (or = 2.0), drug abuse disorders (or = 11.2), and drug dependence disorders (or = 19.4) were significantly associated with failure to proceed to tertiary education. The cumulative proportion of early school terminations attributable to earlyonset mental disorders was estimated at 6.3%.
conclusion Early-onset mental disorders have a considerable impact on school termination prior to completion in Belgium.

keywords early-onset mental disorders, educational attainment, population study