November 1983

Health Manpower Shortage in Geriatric Psychiatry

Author Affiliations

UCLA Project on Aging Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences 760 Westwood Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90024

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983;40(11):1256-1257. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790100102018

To the Editor.—  Drs Pardes and Pincus discussed projected shortages of general and child psychiatrists (Archives 1983;40:97-102) but did not mention the shortage of geriatric psychiatrists. Persons aged 65 years and older comprise the most rapidly growing segment of the US population. In 1980, this group consisted of 25 million members, or 11% of the population. Assuming that current trends continue, an estimated 50 million persons will be over 65 years of age by the year 2030.2 If 4% of this group suffer from organic mental disorders and another 15% from functional psychiatric illnesses, as conservative estimates suggest, then a considerable number of elderly will require psychiatric treatment now and in the future.3 Despite these needs, few psychiatrists have shown interest in treating the elderly. The 1980 Rand Corp (Santa Monica, Calif) report estimated a need for 1,130 geriatric psychiatrists in the United States in 1977, a

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