Serious psychological distress declining among US adults

  • JAMA Psychiatry

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • The number of people with serious psychological distress in the U.S. declined from 2004 to 2015, while the use of outpatient mental health services increased.

Why this matters

  • Study authors suggest it is unlikely that the increase in outpatient treatment contributed to the decrease in serious psychological distress since the majority of the increase in outpatient mental health care use was among patients with mild or no mental health disorders.
  • The majority of people with serious mental health conditions do not receive treatment, possibly due to an unfavorable view of mental health treatment.

Study design

  • 139,862 adult outpatients who had used mental health service were identified from the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys.
  • Funding: NIH; the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Key results

  • The percentage of adults with serious psychological distress remained almost constant in 2004-2005 (4.82%) and 2009-2010 (4.93%).
  • A significant decline in the percentage of serious psychological distress was noted in 2014-2015 (3.71%).
  • Overall, the use of outpatient mental health services increased from 19.08% (2004-2005) to 23.00% (2014-2015) (aOR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.17-1.34).

Limitations

  • Use of mental health care may be underestimated.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm

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