Estimating treated prevalence and service utilization rates: assessing disparities in mental health.
ABSTRACT There is considerable public concern about health disparities among different cultural/racial/ethnic groups. Important process measures that might reflect inequities are treated prevalence and the service utilization rate in a defined period of time. We have previously described a method for estimating N, the distinct number who received service in a year, from a survey of service users at a single point in time. The estimator is based on the random variable 'time since last service', which enables the estimation of treated prevalence. We show that this same data can be used to estimate the service utilization rate, E(J), the mean number of services in the year. If the sample is typical with respect to the time since last visit, the MLE of E(J) is asymptotically unbiased. Confidence intervals and a global test of equality of treated prevalence and service utilization rates among several groups are given. A data set of outpatient mental health services from a county in New York State for which the true values of the parameters are known is analyzed as an illustration of the methods and an appraisal of their accuracy.
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ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE Nationwide studies contrasting service use of racial-ethnic groups provide an overview of disparities, but because of variation in populations and service systems, local studies are required to identify specific targets for remedial action. The authors report on the use of non-inpatient services regulated in New York State (NYS) and report use by the state's larger cultural groups. METHODS Data from the NYS Patient Characteristics Survey were used to estimate annual treated prevalence and treatment intensity, defined as the average number of annual weeks in service for non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and non-Hispanic whites. The latter rates were obtained for specific types of treatment use, by person's age and diagnosis, for the state and for population density-defined regions. Statistical methods contrasted rates of whites with other groups. RESULTS A total of 578,496 individuals in these racial-ethnic groups were served in 2,500 programs, and 51% of those served were nonwhite. Treated prevalence rates of whites were lower than those of blacks and Hispanics and were substantially higher than prevalence rates for Asians. Statewide treatment intensity rates of all racial-ethnic and age groups were comparable except for lower use among Asians >65. Key findings from granular analyses were lower treatment intensity rates for black youths with disruptive disorders, Hispanic adults with anxiety disorders, and Asians >65 with depression compared with white counterparts. In upstate metropolitan areas, black youths and Hispanic adults received services in fewer weeks than whites, and in the New York City metropolitan area, whites >65 had higher treatment intensity rates than contrast groups. CONCLUSIONS Findings suggest a need for assistance to black families in negotiating the multiple systems used by their children, clinical training focusing on cultural symptom presentation, screening of Asians in community settings, and mandated cultural competency assessments for all programs.Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 02/2013; 64(2):156-64. DOI:10.1176/appi.ps.201200098 · 2.81 Impact Factor