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Psychiatr Serv. 2010 Mar;61(3):250-7. doi: 10.1176/

Reasons and determinants for not receiving treatment for common mental disorders.

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  • 1Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), 3500 BN Utrecht, the Netherlands.



This study focused on patients in the general population whose anxiety or depressive disorder is untreated. It explored reasons for not receiving treatment and compared four groups of patients-three that did not receive treatment for different reasons (no problem perceived, no perceived need for care, and unmet need for care) and one that received treatment-regarding their predisposing, enabling, and need factors.


Cross-sectional data were used for 743 primary care patients with current anxiety or depressive disorder from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). Diagnoses were confirmed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Patients' perception of the presence of a mental problem, perceived need for care, service utilization, and reasons for not receiving treatment were assessed with the Perceived Need for Care Questionnaire.


Forty-three percent of the respondents with a six-month anxiety or depression diagnosis did not receive treatment. Twenty-one percent of all respondents with depression or anxiety expressed a need for care but did not receive any. Preferring to manage the problem themselves was the most common reason for respondents to avoid seeking treatment. There were no significant differences in clinical need factors between treated patients and untreated patients with a perceived need for care. Compared with patients in the other two untreated groups, untreated patients with a perceived need for care were more hindered in regard to symptom severity, functional disability, and psychosocial functioning.


General practitioners should pay considerable attention to patients whose need for care is unmet. Furthermore, findings support the implementation of patient empowerment in mental health care in order to contribute to easily accessible and patient-centered care.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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