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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2009 Jan-Feb;31(1):46-55. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2008.09.011. Epub 2008 Nov 4.

Receiving treatment for common mental disorders.

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  • 1NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, 3500BH Utrecht, The Netherlands.



Anxiety and depressive disorders are widely prevalent, but patients are only treated in a minority of cases. In this study, the explanation of receiving mental health treatment is sought in predisposing and enabling characteristics and indicators for objective and self-perceived need.


Cross-sectional analysis of data collected in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) among 743 persons with an anxiety and/or depression diagnosis as assessed by the CIDI. Receipt of mental health treatment was assessed in the face-to-face interview, as well as indicators of predisposing and enabling factors and variables evaluating need for care.


Of the total sample, 57% received treatment in the past 6 months in the general practice setting (50%) or the mental health care setting (14%). Younger patients, patients who evaluated their providers better on communicative abilities and patients who perceived mental health problems themselves had greater odds of having professional mental health contacts in the primary care setting. Confidence in professional help and higher severity of mental problems were associated with greater odds of having specialized mental health care.


Receiving help for common mental disorders depends not only on the objective need of the patient but also at least as much on the patients' own recognition that their problems have a mental health origin. Furthermore, in primary care especially, the patients' judgment of their providers' affective abilities may be decisive for being treated. For receiving specialized care, patients are also directed by their confidence in professional help.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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