BACKGROUND This study reports the prevalence of psychiatric disorder in women from a Canadian community. The GHQ and the CES-D were compared for their utility.

METHOD A thousand women over the age of 18 were mailed the GHQ and the CES-D. Our return rate was 44.4%; 24% were personally interviewed by interviews blind to screening information. The CIDI was used to establish DSM-III-R diagnoses. Four versions of the GHQ and one version of the CES-D were calibrated against the CIDI.

RESULTS The prevalence of general psychiatric disorder was estimated as between 15% and 19%, anxiety disorders between 10% and 13%, and depression occurring with anxiety between 3% and 4%. The calibrated GHQ was the most reliable instrument.

CONCLUSIONS Prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorder can be reliably determined with the calibrated GHQ. Anxiety disorders are most prevalent in this community, and were best detected using calibrated versions of the longer form GHQ.