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April 1975

Utilization of Mental Health Services: I. Patienthood and the Prevalence of Symptomatology in the Community

Author Affiliations

From the departments of psychiatry (Drs. Tischler and Henisz) and sociology (Dr. Myers), and the Institution for Social and Policy Studies (Drs. Myers and Tischler), Yale University; and the Connecticut Mental Health Center (Mr. Boswell), New Haven.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(4):411-415. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760220023001

We explored the association between patienthood and prevalence of symptomatology in the community. Base line data on prevalence were obtained through the use of a household survey. Characteristics of survey respondents (N = 938) and patients admitted from the surveyed area to a Connecticut Mental Health Center during a 12-month period (N = 808) were compared.

High utilization of facilities was associated with the prevalence of symptoms in the community, particularly where defining characteristics were descriptors of disadvantaged social status. A second set of variables correlated with mental health center use but not with the prevalence of symptoms in the community. By and large, these characteristics describe a lack of social supports not necessarily related to social status. Finally, certain groups were underrepresented as patients even though comprising populations-at-risk in terms of levels of symptom impairment in the community.