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ABSTRACT: Only a limited proportion of patients with psychiatric disorders attend the healthcare facilities, and that too when the condition becomes severe. Treatment from unqualified medical practitioners and faith healers is a common practice, and is attributable to the delay in proper treatment.
A cross-sectional study was conducted to understand the pathway of care adopted by psychiatric patients and its relationship with the socio-demographic determinants in the study population. The subjects were selected from urban specialty psychiatric hospitals and interviewed using a pre-tested, semi-structured interview schedule. The data was analyzed using SPSS v10.0 software. The Chi square test, T test, and Kruskall Wallis Test were used, as needed.
A total of 295 patients (203 males) were included in this study. The majority of the patients (45%) were suffering from Bipolar affective disorders (45%), followed by schizophrenia (36%). The majority, 203 (68%), were from the rural area, with 94 patients being illiterate. The mean distance traveled for treatment was 249 km. The majority of these (69%) had first contacted faith healers and a qualified psychiatrist was the first contacted person for only 9.2% of the patients.
A large proportion of psychiatric patients do not attend any health facility due to a lack of awareness about treatment services, the distance, and due to the fear of the stigma associated with treatment. The psychiatric patients first seek the help of various sources prior to attending a psychiatric health facility. The pathway adopted by these patients need to be kept in mind at the time of preparation of the mental health program.
Indian Journal of Psychiatry 10/2010; 52(4):333-8.