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June 7, 2000

The Public Health Model for Mental Health Care for the Elderly

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Psychiatry (Dr Katz) and Family Practice (Dr Coyne), University of Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Veterans Integrated Service Network 4 Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (Dr Katz), Philadelphia.

JAMA. 2000;283(21):2844-2845. doi:10.1001/jama.283.21.2844

The article by Rabins et al,1 in this issue of THE JOURNAL, exemplifies what the 1999 Surgeon General's report2 on mental health has called the public health approach to mental health and mental illness. Characterized by concern for the health of a population in its entirety, the public health model extends beyond the traditional areas of diagnosis, treatment, and studies of the origins of disease to include "epidemiological surveillance of the health of the population at large, health promotion, disease prevention, and access to and evaluation of services."2(p3) In terms of clinical activities, this public health model extends beyond simple models that provide treatment only for those who request care, to include systematic approaches to identifying cases, facilitating access to treatment, ensuring the delivery of quality care, and assessing the outcomes of treatment with respect to psychiatric symptoms and other outcomes of public health significance.

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