Article

Unmet need for mental health care in schizophrenia: an overview of literature and new data from a first-admission study.

Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Schizophrenia Bulletin (Impact Factor: 8.61). 08/2009; 35(4):679-95. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbp045
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We present an overview of the literature on the patterns of mental health service use and the unmet need for care in individuals with schizophrenia with a focus on studies in the United States. We also present new data on the longitudinal course of treatments from a study of first-admission patients with schizophrenia. In epidemiological surveys, approximately 40% of the respondents with schizophrenia report that they have not received any mental health treatments in the preceding 6-12 months. Clinical epidemiological studies also find that many patients virtually drop out of treatment after their index contact with services and receive little mental health care in subsequent years. Clinical studies of patients in routine treatment settings indicate that the treatment patterns of these patients often fall short of the benchmarks set by evidence-based practice guidelines, while at least half of these patients continue to experience significant symptoms. The divergence from the guidelines is more pronounced with regard to psychosocial than medication treatments and in outpatient than in inpatient settings. The expansion of managed care has led to further reduction in the use of psychosocial treatments and, in some settings, continuity of care. In conclusion, we found a substantial level of unmet need for care among individuals with schizophrenia both at community level and in treatment settings. More than half of the individuals with this often chronic and disabling condition receive either no treatment or suboptimal treatment. Recovery in this patient population cannot be fully achieved without enhancing access to services and improving the quality of available services. The recent expansion of managed care has made this goal more difficult to achieve.

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