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Outpatient mental health care in nonhospital settings: distribution of patients across provider groups
Am J Psychiatry 1996;153:1353-1356.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: A national overview of outpatient mental health care in nonhospital settings is provided, focusing on the distribution of patients among psychiatrists, psychologists, general medical physicians, and other health professionals. METHOD: Data from the household section of the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey were analyzed to determine the volume and characteristics of patients receiving mental health care from these four professional groups. RESULTS: In 1987 an estimated 4.1% of noninstitutionalized Americans (9.0 million) made 84 million outpatient mental health visits to nonhospital settings. Psychiatrists provided significantly more visits than psychologists for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and depression, but significantly fewer visits for anxiety disorders and symptoms such as "nervousness." General medical physicians provided the most visits for adjustment disorders and substance abuse, while the other professionals provided the most visits for childhood mental disorders and mental retardation. CONCLUSIONS: In 1987 important differences existed between the outpatients who received mental health care from psychologists, psychiatrists, general medical physicians, and other health professionals.

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