News and Views
May 1999

Psychiatric Patients and Treatments in 1997Findings From the American Psychiatric Practice Research Network

Author Affiliations

From the American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC (Drs Pincus, Zarin, Marcus, West, and McIntyre and Mss Tanielian, Johnson, and Pettit), and the Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Kessler).


Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56(5):441-449. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.56.5.441

Despite extensive studies on the epidemiology of mental disorders and advances in the treatment of these conditions, there is a paucity of detailed information concerning the characteristics of psychiatric patients and how treatments are administered in routine psychiatric practice. This 1997 observational study collected detailed information from 417 psychiatrists on the demographic, diagnostic, clinical, and treatment characteristics of a systematic sample of 1228 patients. Six hundred thirty-seven patients (51.9%) were women and the mean patient age was 41.9 years. The most common diagnostic category (53.7%) was mood disorders, followed by schizophrenia/psychotic disorders (14.6%), anxiety disorders (9.3%), and disorders of childhood (7.7%). Six hundred seventy-one patients (54.6%) had at least one comorbid Axis I condition and almost half (49.8%) had a history of psychiatric hospitalization. Patients received a mean of 2.0 psychotherapeutic medications, most commonly antidepressants (62.3%). Findings demonstrate that psychiatrists in routine practice treat a patient population with severe, complex conditions.