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Physical health is the entire wellbeing of the body, not just the absence of disease (1). Aspects of physical ill-health, such as illness, disability, and frailty, can affect mental health.


Physical Health Risk/Pro

Risk and/or Protective Factor

Physical and mental health comorbidity is common. Many people who have chronic physical conditions also experience mental health difficulties like depression or anxiety (2,3). Also, individuals with mental health difficulties have a higher risk of developing physical health problems than the general population (4).

A disability is an impairment of the body or the mind that limits activities (such as seeing or walking) and has participatory restrictions in daily activities (5). Disabilities can be a risk factor for mental health difficulties, as people with disabilities may experience increased distress in comparison to people without disabilities (6).

Frailty is common amongst older adults and is associated with weakness, slowness and decreased energy (7). This decline in health and autonomy can be a risk factor, as frailty has been associated with lower psychological well-being (8). 



1.        World Health Organization. Basic documents: forty-ninth edition (including amendments adopted up to 31 May 2019). Geneva; 2020.

2.        Department of Health. No health without mental health. A cross-government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2021 Jan 15]. Available from:

3.        Pinquart M, Shen Y. Behavior Problems in Children and Adolescents With Chronic Physical Illness: A Meta-Analysis. J Pediatr Psychol [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2021 Feb 3];36(9):1103–1016. Available from:

4.        Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario. Recommendations for Preventing and Managing Co-Existing Chronic Physical Conditions and Mental Illnesses [Internet]. Ontario; 2008 [cited 2021 Feb 26]. Available from:

5.        World Health Organization. International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Geneva; 2001.

6.        Cree RA, Okoro CA, Zack MM, Carbone E. Frequent Mental Distress Among Adults, by Disability Status, Disability Type, and Selected Characteristics — United States, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep [Internet]. 2020 Sep 11 [cited 2021 Jan 21];69(36):1238–43. Available from:

7.        Fried LP, Tangen CM, Walston J, Newman AB, Hirsch C, Gottdiener J, et al. Frailty in older adults: Evidence for a phenotype. Journals Gerontol - Ser A Biol Sci Med Sci [Internet]. 2001 Mar 1 [cited 2021 Jan 12];56(3):146–56. Available from:

8.        Andrew MK, Fisk JD, Rockwood K. Psychological well-being in relation to frailty: A frailty identity crisis? Int Psychogeriatrics. 2012 Aug;24(8):1347–53.


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