Health Status and the Use of Outpatient Mental Health Services

Published in: American Psychologist, v. 39, no. 10, Oct. 1984, p. 1090-1100

by John E. Ware, Willard G. Manning, Naihua Duan, Kenneth B. Wells, Joseph P. Newhouse

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Using data from the Rand Corporation's Health Insurance Study, the authors have linked mental health status (self-reported psychological distress and psychological well-being) to the subsequent use outpatient mental health services delivered by formally trained mental health specialists and general medical providers. Both the probability of any mental health care and the intensity of treatment provided by mental health specialists increase significantly with increases in psychological distress. These effects are independent of insurance plan, physical health, and sociodemographic variables. Results support the validity of self-report, mental health surveys and suggest that outpatient mental health services tend to be delivered rationally, although the great majority of those who are most psychologically distressed receive no mental health treatment even when care is free.

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