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Am J Psychiatry. 1999 Mar;156(3):451-7.

Trends in office-based psychiatric practice.

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  • 1New York State Psychiatric Institute/Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, NY 10032, USA.



The authors examine trends in the composition and duration of visits to psychiatrists in office-based psychiatric practice.


An analysis was performed of physician-reported data from the 1985 and 1995 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys focusing on visits to physicians specializing in psychiatry. Secular changes in visit characteristics were assessed, and mean visit durations were determined for selected sociodemographic and clinical groups.


In the decade between 1985 and 1995, visits in office-based psychiatry became shorter, less often included psychotherapy, and more often included a medication prescription. The proportion of visits that were 10 minutes or less in length increased. A shortening in visit duration was most evident for younger patients, privately insured patients, and patients who were not prescribed a psychotropic medication. In the 1995 survey, 6.8% of the psychiatric visits included patient contact with another health care professional.


Changing financial arrangements and new pharmacologic treatments may have contributed to these changes in practice style.

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