Curtailing the communicability of psychiatric disorders

Milton L. Wainberg, Liat Helpman, Cristiane S. Duarte, Sten H. Vermund, Jennifer J. Mootz, Lidia Gouveia, Maria A. Oquendo, Karen McKinnon, Francine Cournos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although psychiatric disorders are classified as non-communicable diseases, we believe this classification is too rigid and limiting. We present evidence of the communicability of psychiatric disorders through three major pathways: infectious and ecological, familial, and sociocultural communicability. Successful strategies developed to control the spread of communicable infectious diseases are relevant to curtailing the communicability of psychiatric disorders, thereby reducing their burden. Current interventions and policies that conceptualise psychiatric illnesses as non-communicable mostly focus on the individual. By applying strategies from infectious disease and chronic illness prevention models within a socioecological framework, we posit a broad communicable chronic disease psychiatric illness control plan for effectively treating the patient with the psychiatric disorder (host) as early as possible, providing benefits to their family and the community, and preventing transmission to others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-944
Number of pages5
JournalThe Lancet Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Grant U19 MH113203, PRIDE sSA—Partnerships in Research to Implement and Disseminate Sustainable and Scalable Evidence Based Practices in sub-Saharan Africa (FC, LG, MLW, and MAO), the Fogarty International Center and National Institute of Mental Health Grant D43 TW009675—PALOP MH Implementation Research Training (LG, MLW, and MAO), a National Institute of Mental Health Grant P30MH062294, Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (SHV), and a National Research Service Award grant T32 MH096724, Global Mental Health Research Fellowship: interventions that make a difference (LH, CSD, JJM, and MLW).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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