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June 1985

Specialty and General Ambulatory Mental Health Services: Comparison of Utilization and Expenditures

Author Affiliations

From the National Center for Health Services Research, Rockville, Md. Dr Horgan is now at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(6):565-572. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790290047005

• A substantial amount of ambulatory mental health services are received outside of the specialty mental health sector; however, precise estimates are lacking. To determine national estimates of utilization and expenditures for total ambulatory mental health services, as well as separate estimates for the specialty mental health and general medical sectors, patterns of use were examined by standard demographic characteristics. Almost 5% of the US population in 1977 had at least one ambulatory visit in conjunction with a mental problem. Three fifths of users received their care in the general medical sector; however, two thirds of all mental health visits occurred in the specialty mental health sector. This study indicates that there are significant differences between the two sectors with respect to utilization and expenditure patterns.

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