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J Rural Health. 1999 Summer;15(3):344-55.

Service use of rural and urban Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from depression: the role of supply.

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Maine Rural Health Research Center, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, Portland 04104-9300, USA.


Despite the prevalence and consequence of depression in rural areas, the literature on treating depression in rural areas is relatively scarce and inconclusive. The use of mental health services by rural people suffering from depression and the role that supply may play in explaining these differences are not well understood. Understanding these issues for rural Medicaid beneficiaries is important as Medicaid managed carefor physical and behavioral health care is expanded to rural areas. This study compares the mental health service use of rural and urban Medicaid beneficiaries, ages 18 to 64, in Maine suffering from depression and examines what influence mental health and primary care supply have in explaining observed differences. Two models are used to estimate the use of ambulatory mental health services: (1) a logit likelihood estimate of whether a beneficiary uses any outpatient mental health services for depression; (2) an ordinary least squares regression estimating the number of annualized ambulatory mental health care visits among users. Rural beneficiaries suffering from depression have lower utilization than urban beneficiaries. Rural and urban Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)--and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)--beneficiaries suffering from depression rely more on mental health than on general health care providers to receive ambulatory mental health care. Rural beneficiaries (AFDC and SSI) rely relatively more on general health care providers than urban beneficiaries. Multivariate analysis suggests that mental health supply and patient-level factors, but not primary care supply, account for utilization differences. This article describes the need to better understand factors limiting participation of primary care providers and to study the role of supply across multiple states.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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