HealthDay News — From 2006 to 2018, there was an increase in the proportion of visits to outpatient primary care physicians that addressed mental health, according to a study published in the February issue of Health Affairs.
Lisa S. Rotenstein, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues characterized temporal trends in primary care visits addressing a mental health concern using nationally representative serial cross-sectional data from the 2006 to 2018 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys for visits to outpatient primary care physicians by adult patients. Data were included for a sample of 109,898 visits representing 3,891,233,060 weighted visits.
The researchers observed an increase in the proportion of visits that addressed mental health concerns from 10.7% of visits in 2006 to 2007 to 15.9% of visits by 2016 and 2018. Compared with White patients, Black patients were 40% less likely to have a mental health concern addressed during a primary care visit, while Hispanic patients were 40% less likely to have a mental health concern addressed than non-Hispanic patients.
“While our data do not tell us why we see differences in the proportion of visits addressing mental health concerns when we look at rates by race and ethnicity, the findings tell us that we need to be looking into the barriers — including process disparities and structural and communication barriers — that may prevent all patients from accessing care as needed,” Rotenstein said in a statement.
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