Socioeconomic factors and common mental health disorders: The role of gene-environment interplay

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis aims to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying socioeconomic disparities in common mental health outcomes by investigating gene-environment interactions and the impact of selection bias in family data. Significant gaps exist in the literature regarding the moderating effects of socioeconomic status on the aetiology of mental health outcomes and the potential genetic overlap between family socioeconomic conditions and child mental health. Moreover, limited research has explored gene-environment interplay processes in lower- and middle-income populations. Additionally, selection bias in population- based cohort studies can compromise the validity of study results and potentially limit our understanding of the effects of socioeconomic conditions on mental health.

Chapter 2 uses extended family data from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Birth Cohort Study (MoBa) to examine how parental socioeconomic factors moderate the aetiological influences on child emotional and behavioural problems in the presence of gene- environment correlation. Chapter 3 investigates the influence of individual socioeconomic factors on depression symptoms in adults using data from the Colombo Twins and Singletons Study (CoTASS) in Sri Lanka, providing insights into the relationship between socioeconomic status and mental health outcomes in a South Asian context. Chapter 4 explores the impact of selection bias on phenotypic and genetic correlations within the MoBa cohort, assessing the potential biases introduced by selective participation.

By addressing these gaps in the literature and considering the role of gene-environment interactions and selection bias, this thesis aims to advance our knowledge of the complex relationships between socioeconomic conditions and mental health outcomes. The findings have implications for interventions and policies targeting mental health disparities and promoting well-being across diverse populations.
Date of Award1 Mar 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorThomas McAdams (Supervisor) & Helena Zavos (Supervisor)

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