gms | German Medical Science

MAINZ//2011: 56. GMDS-Jahrestagung und 6. DGEpi-Jahrestagung

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie e. V.

26. - 29.09.2011 in Mainz

Self-reported weakness as a proxy of mental health problems among slum dwellers in the megacity of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Meeting Abstract

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  • Johanna Brinkel - Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld

Mainz//2011. 56. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 6. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie (DGEpi). Mainz, 26.-29.09.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11gmds255

DOI: 10.3205/11gmds255, URN: urn:nbn:de:0183-11gmds2554

Published: September 20, 2011

© 2011 Brinkel.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: The slum populations in Bangladesh are increasing at an alarming rate and often characterized by extreme poverty, poor housing conditions and hazardous environment. All these factors are associated with poor mental health. However, research about mental health consequences of slum dwellers is very limited in Bangladesh. The objective of this study was to identify key factors and determinants which were associated with “self-reported weakness” as a proxy of the mental health syndrome.

Methods: The database is a cohort study (2009), based on a sample of 1.939 households residing in 9 slums in Dhaka. The odds of different variables for the outcome “self-reported weakness” were calculated by simple and multivariable logistic regression. The longitudinal analyses were performed using Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression.

Results: Results showed that the occurrence of mental weakness depended on behavioral as well as environmental and socio-demographic factors. Persons who had no separated kitchen in the house had a higher chance (OR 4.5; 95%-CI 1.9-10.5) to develop weakness compared to persons who had a separate kitchen inside. Interviewed people who had their kitchen outside had a 2.9 (95%-CI 1.4-6.2) higher chance of weakness than people who had their kitchen inside the house. The chance to report weakness in the age group of 31-50 years was 2.1 (95%-CI 1.3-3.6) times higher than in the age group of below 30. Results from longitudinal analysis showed that by the end of the study the cumulative likelihood for weakness was 22.3 % (95%-CI 20,9-23,6). Households with no windows had a 1.4 (95%-CI 1.1–1.9) times higher risk for weakness compared to households with windows. Furthermore, the number of household members and the number of children played a significant role for the occurrence of weakness. In addition, household members who had an occupation were less likely to report weakness compared to unemployed people.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest a need for action, more support and further research of slum dwellers living in slums in Dhaka who suffer from weakness and potential mental health problems. All significant variables should be considered for the development of suitable policies in order to reduce the mental health burden via early preventive interventions and the improvement of health services to support people with mental health problems.


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