Background. In Switzerland, recovery-oriented mental health research collecting nonclinical population data remains scarce. People experiencing psychological health problems (HPs) are more likely to be stigmatised than people experiencing physical HPs. Here, we present a study in which participants of the Swiss Household Panel (SHP) were contacted for an auto-administered questionnaire survey in order to report on the impact that psychological or physical HPs had on their identity, experiences of stigmatisation, subjective state of recovery as well as positive and negative consequences for various aspects of their lives. This report describes the study aims, procedure, measures, sample selection and response analyses, sample composition and health characteristics.
Methods. 1426 persons were selected based on their health reports in the SHP, 713 for a psychological and 713 for a physical HP. We analysed the impact of the selection and the response process on sociodemographic characteristics and on psychosocial variables (social integration and mental health indicators). We also investigated mode (online versus paperpencil) effects. Difference between groups were analysed using Chi-Square and t-tests.
Results. The response rate was 60.17%; 47.83% of the data could be used for analyses. There were slight mode effects, especially regarding sociodemographic variables. Respondents, in comparison to non-respondents, showed higher levels of education, social trust, and satisfaction in several domains. Finally, we obtained a heterogeneous convenience sample from the German and French speaking parts of the Swiss population that had experienced past or ongoing health problems. Women, individuals with high educational
levels, Swiss nationals, and individuals living in the French-speaking part were overrepresented. The principal HPs reported were the most frequent and burdensome for the Swiss population, mainly depression, burnout, anxiety, orthopaedic problems, allergies and cardiac problems. Most participants had received treatment for their HP and had experienced it already for some years.
Conclusion. Using these data enables to analyse the impact of frequent and burdensome psychological and physical HPs on people’s lives in a heterogeneous convenience sample that has already had some time to deal with their HPs. Future research should try to reach more socially isolated individuals, stigmatised illness groups and individuals without treatment.