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Br J Psychiatry. 2011 Feb;198(2):99-108. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.109.073650. Epub 2010 Dec 15.

Policy initiative to improve access to psychological services for people with affective and anxiety disorders: population-level analysis.

Author information

1
Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, Locked Bag 500, Sumner Park BC, Queensland 4077, Australia. harrism@qcmhr.uq.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In 2006, Australia introduced new publicly funded psychological services for people with affective and anxiety disorders (the Better Access programme). Despite massive uptake, it has been suggested that Better Access is selectively treating socioeconomically advantaged people, including some who do not warrant treatment, and people already receiving equivalent services.

AIMS:

To explore potential disparities in Better Access treatment using epidemiological data from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

METHOD:

Logistic regression analyses examined patterns and correlates of service use in two populations: people who used the new psychological services in the previous 12 months; and people with any ICD-10 12-month affective and anxiety disorder, regardless of service use.

RESULTS:

Most (93.2%) Better Access psychological services users had a 12-month ICD-10 mental disorder or another indicator of treatment need. Better Access users without affective or anxiety disorders were not more socioeconomically advantaged, and received less treatment than those with these disorders. Among the population with affective or anxiety disorders, non-service users were less likely to have a severe disorder and more likely to have anxiety disorder, without a comorbid affective disorder, than Better Access users. Better Access users comprised more new allied healthcare recipients than other service users. A substantial minority of non-service users (13.5%) had severe disorders, but most did not perceive a need for treatment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Better Access does not appear to be overservicing individuals without potential need or contributing to social inequalities in mental healthcare. It appears to be reaching people who have not previously received psychological care. Treatment rates could be improved for some people with anxiety disorders.

Comment in

PMID:
21160055
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.109.073650
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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