2017-12-13Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.17886/RKI-GBE-2017-122
The utilization of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic services in Germany – individual determinants and regional differences
Kroll, Lars Eric
In Germany, the provision of health services to people with mental disorders is an issue that is subject to controversial debate. On the one hand, regional differences exist in the distribution of psychotherapists in Germany. On the other hand, patients are often willing to accept the extra effort of having to travel further in order to access treatment even in case of a low supply. Thus, in addition to issues of access, an analysis of care provision also needs to take into account the actual level of services utilization. The present paper analyses the utilization of outpatient psychiatric and psychotherapeutic services and identifies individual and regional determinants. The German Health Update (GEDA) is a nationwide survey of the adult population that is conducted by the Robert Koch Institute in the context of its population-based health monitoring. The GEDA 2014/2015-EHIS study (n=24,016) is based on a two-stage stratified random sample drawn from the population registers of 301 local authorities in Germany. The main outcome is the utilization of psychotherapeutic or psychiatric services during the last 12 months. In addition to the consideration of individual factors, the survey data was combined with information describing the regional distribution of providers of outpatient psychotherapeutic and neurological care. The data was analysed using logistic multi-level regression. In Germany, 11.3% of women and 8.1% of men report that they have used psychotherapeutic or psychiatric treatment within the last 12 months. Among respondents with current depressive symptoms, these rates are 35.0% in women and 31.0% in men. This means that approximately two thirds of people with current depressive symptoms do not seek the services of these health professionals during this period. Apart from current depressive symptoms the utilization of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic services is associated with not living with a partner and with low levels of social support. Furthermore, in regions with a high density of care providers, the proportion of people with current depressive symptoms using such services is about 15 percentage points higher than in regions with a low density. The conditions for the utilization of the respective services should not only be improved by increasing the number of care providers, but also by implementing accompanying measures. Innovations in health care aiming at rapid and low-threshold access as well as approaches for a better cooperation between primary and specialist care should therefore be evaluated regarding their contribution to an improved early treatment.
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