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The roles of psychiatrists in organized outpatient mental health settings
Am J Psychiatry 1993;150:625-631.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This paper describes the clinical roles of psychiatrists in U.S. organized outpatient mental health settings. METHOD: Data were analyzed from the 1986 National Institute of Mental Health Client/Patient Sample Survey. The authors determined the range, volume, and content of services provided to established outpatients treated by psychiatrists at six types of mental health organizations: state and county mental hospital clinics, general hospital mental health clinics, private psychiatric hospital clinics, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center mental health clinics, free-standing mental health clinics, and multiservice mental health organizations. RESULTS: The psychiatrists treated nearly one-half (48.2%) of the established outpatients in organized settings, more than any other discipline. Most of the psychiatrists' patients (68.3%) were also treated by other mental health professionals. Psychiatrists treated a greater proportion of the patients at hospital-based clinics (60.7%) than at clinics without hospital affiliations (43.6%). They also treated larger proportions of the patients with schizophrenia (77.9%), affective disorders (50.6%), or anxiety disorders (59.2%) than those with adjustment disorders (23.7%), substance use disorders (34.3%), or childhood mental disorders (29.5%). The patients treated by psychiatrists commonly received psychotropic medications (77.3%) and individual therapy (66.3%) but less commonly received group (20.7%), skills (11.9%), or family (5.9%) therapy. CONCLUSIONS: In organized outpatient settings, psychiatrists typically work with other mental health professionals to treat a select group of severely ill patients. However, there is considerable variation in the extent to which different types of mental health organizations rely on psychiatrists to provide clinical care.

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