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Trends in Outpatient Mental Health Care of US Adults

JAMA Psychiatry; ePub 2018 Nov 28; Olfson, et al

The recent increase in outpatient mental health service use among US adults occurred during a period of decline in serious psychological distress, according to a recent study. Furthermore, adults with less serious psychological distress accounted for most of the absolute increase in outpatient mental health service use, while adults with serious psychological distress experienced a greater relative increase in outpatient mental health service use. Researchers used data from the 2004-2005, 2009-2010, and 2014-2015 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys (MEPS), nationally representative surveys taken in US households. The analysis was limited to participants aged ≥18 years. They found:

  • The analysis involved 139,862 adult participants including 51.67% women, 48.33% men, 67.11% white adults, and 32.89% nonwhite adults, with an overall mean (SE) age of 46.41 (0.14) years.
  • Serious psychological distress declined overall from 4.82% (2004-2005) to 3.71% (2014-2015), including significant declines among young (3.94% to 3.07%), middle-aged (5.52% to 4.36%), and older adults (5.24% to 3.79%); men (3.94% to 3.09%) and women (5.64% to 4.29%); and major racial/ethnic groups (white, 4.52% to 3.82%; African American, 5.12% to 3.64%; Hispanic, 6.03% to 3.55%; and other, 5.22% to 3.26%).

Olfson M, Wang S, Wall M, Marcus SC, Blanco C. Trends in serious psychological distress

and outpatient mental health care of US adults. [Published online ahead of print November 28, 2018]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.3550.