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: 8.45). 08/2009; 35(4):679-95. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbp045
Source: PubMed


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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Available from: Su-Wei Chang
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    • "An increase in treated prevalence, however, does not equate to better quality of care. Despite significant progress in access to mental health treatment for individuals with SMI and CODs, the majority of persons who are in need of treatment receive inadequate treatment (Mojtabai et al. 2009). This represents a treatment gap in community mental health care that may, in part, account for the growth we see in hospitalizations. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined trends in general hospital discharges and dispositions involving episodes of severe mental illness (SMI) with and without co-occurring substance use disorders. We analyzed data from the National Hospital Discharge Survey from 1979 through 2008. Discharges involving SMI and co-occurring substance use disorders (COD) were associated with shorter lengths of stay and had a greater likelihood of being discharged routinely or home and reduced likelihood of being transferred to a short- or long-term facility. Although COD discharges had a greater odds of leaving against medical advice than SMI discharges, this effect was not significant over time. A greater understanding of hospital discharge planning practices is needed to ensure that patients are linked to appropriate aftercare services.
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    • "In contrast, there is another group of patients that uses health services but presents with scarce adherence to treatment. In both groups, unmet needs are estimated from the comparison between recommended treatments and service use patterns.78 "
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    ABSTRACT: Studies on unmet needs during the last decades have played a significant role in the development and dissemination of evidence-based community practices for persistent schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders. This review has thoroughly considered several blocks of unmet needs, which are frequently related to schizophrenic disorders. Those related to health have been the first block to be considered, in which authors have examined the frequent complications and comorbidities found in schizophrenia, such as substance abuse and dual diagnosis. A second block has been devoted to psychosocial and economic needs, especially within the field of recovery of the persistently mentally ill. Within this block, the effects of the current economic difficulties shown in recent literature have been considered as well. Because no patient is static, a third block has reviewed evolving needs according to the clinical staging model. The fourth block has been dedicated to integrated evidence-based interventions to improve the quality of life of persons with schizophrenia. Consideration of community care for those reluctant to maintain contact with mental health services has constituted the fifth block. Finally, authors have aggregated their own reflections regarding future trends. The number of psychosocial unmet needs is extensive. Vast research efforts will be needed to find appropriate ways to meet them, particularly regarding so-called existential needs, but many needs could be met only by applying existing evidence-based interventions. Reinforcing research on the implementation strategies and capacity building of professionals working in community settings might address this problem. The final aim should be based on the collaborative model of care, which rests on the performance of a case manager responsible for monitoring patient progress, providing assertive follow-up, teaching self-help strategies, and facilitating communication among the patient, family doctor, mental health specialist, and other specialists.
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