Mental Health Care Use in Later Life: Results from a National Survey of Canadians
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OBJECTIVE: To estimate the proportion of older adults who have used mental health services in the past 12 months among those who meet the criteria for one or more Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Fourth Edition, 12-month psychiatric disorders. We also examine the factors associated with mental health care use in this population. METHOD: We used secondary data from the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being (CCHS 1.2). We first estimated the proportion of adults aged 55 years and older who used a range of mental health services. Next, using logistic regression, we examined the relative contribution of predisposing, enabling, and need characteristics in predicting any service use in this population. RESULTS: Among the 12 792 adults aged 55 years and older in the CCHS 1.2, 513 (4.23%, 95% CI 3.89% to 4.95%) met the criteria for at least one 12-month DSM-IV disorder. Among these respondents, 37% (95% CI 31% to 43%) saw at least one type of mental health care provider in the past 12 months. Visits to a general health care provider for mental health reasons were most common, followed by specialist care. Only psychological distress was significantly and positively associated with using mental health care services. CONCLUSIONS: Over 60% of the older adults who met the criteria for a DSM-IV disorder were not using mental health care services. Social and demographic factors did not predict service use in this population.
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