Mental Disorders Among Chernobyl Cleanup Workers From Estonia: A Clinical Assessment

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Objective: To assess, at a clinical level, the mental health of former Chernobyl cleanup workers from Estonia by comparing them with same-age controls. Method: The Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) was administered during 2011–2012 to 99 cleanup workers and 100 population-based controls previously screened for mental health symptoms. Results: Logistic regression analysis showed that cleanup workers had higher odds of current depressive disorder (odds ratio [OR] = 3.07, 95% confidence interval [CI: 1.34, 7.01]), alcohol dependence (OR = 3.47, 95% CI [1.29, 9.34]), and suicide ideation (OR = 3.44, 95% CI [1.28, 9.21]) than did controls. Except for suicide ideation, associations with Chernobyl exposure became statistically nonsignificant when adjusted for education and ethnicity. Conclusion: A quarter of a century after the Chernobyl accident, Estonian cleanup workers were still at increased risk of mental disorders, which was partly attributable to sociodemographic factors.

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