Six-Month Longitudinal Patterns of Mental Health Treatment Utilization by Older Adults With Depressive Symptoms

Department of Aging and Mental Health Disparities, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.
Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) (Impact Factor: 2.41). 11/2011; 62(11):1353-60. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


Aims of the study were to describe behavioral health treatment utilization patterns of community-dwelling older adults with depressive symptoms over a six-month period and to identify factors associated with treatment use, guided by a theoretical model emphasizing the dynamic nature of treatment use patterns over time and social context.
A total of 144 participants ≥65 years old with depressive symptoms completed an in-person baseline interview and six monthly telephone follow-up interviews. Outcomes at each follow-up included the use of antidepressants or counseling. Covariates included personal and social context variables.
Approximately half of the participants (N=70, 48%) received no formal treatment (antidepressant prescription or counseling). Treatment use or nonuse did not change for most participants. More participants with severe symptoms received antidepressants (25%-37%) than did those with milder symptoms (10%-14%), although more participants in the latter group started (milder, 62%,versus severe, 49%) and stopped (milder, 77%, versus severe, 26%) antidepressant treatment at least once. Fewer individuals received counseling overall, with no clear patterns by symptom severity. In multivariate longitudinal analyses, treatment use at follow-up was independently associated with younger age, current major depressive episode, baseline use of antidepressant, intention to begin a new treatment at baseline, and receipt of advice to seek treatment.
Over a six-month period, most older adults with depressive symptoms in this study continued their use or nonuse of mental health treatment. Demographic, need, attitudinal, and social variables were related to treatment use over time. Addressing intentions and providing advice may facilitate treatment seeking.

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