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Mental Health Issues Limit Medical Care

New research led by the University of Leicester and published this week in the British Journal of Psychiatry reveals that people with mental health problems are receiving inferior care for their medical needs.

The study by a team of researchers led by Dr Alex Mitchell from the University of Leicester Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, warns that medical care delivered across most branches of medicine to those with a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis is of inferior quality to the usual standard of care.

This important systematic review showed widespread inequalities of care in those with mental health problems.

Dr Mitchell said: “We wished to investigate whether the quality of medical care received by people with mental health conditions, including substance misuse, differs from the care received by people who have no comparable mental disorder.

“We found that despite similar or actually more frequent medical contacts, there are often disparities in the physical health care delivered to those with psychiatric illness with frankly poorer care offered to (or accepted by) those with pre-existing mental health problems.”

The research was based on analyzing 31 valid studies. Dr Mitchell said:

“I work in liaison psychiatry and regularly see people who have received what they report as poor treatment by virtue of their mental illness. Often there is a temptation for clinicians to attribute any physical symptom to the psychiatric diagnosis without necessarily assessing the person thoroughly.

“Perhaps most surprising, our study found that inferior quality medical care did not depend on the presence of current psychiatric symptoms but rather was delivered to anyone with a previous or current mental health diagnosis.”

“If poor quality of care is associated with a mental health diagnosis it could be because poor care is delivered by medical staff or perhaps that reduced care is taken up by those patients themselves. In fact we found in general more care was taken up (the quantity was the same or higher) but its nature was insufficient (poor quality).”

Dr Mitchell, who is also part of the Department of Liaison Psychiatry, Leicester General Hospital, carried out the study with Darren Malone of Lakes District Health Board, New Zealand, and Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester and Caroline Carney Doebbeling, of the Department of Internal Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis.

Dr Mitchell said that the research raised important questions:

“We need to understand if doctors working in medical specialties treat those with mental health problems differently just because of their mental health labels. We also need to know more about whether poor quality of care effects outcomes such as mortality. Mortality has been linked with several mental health problems and inferior care could be one explanation for this.

“The key message of the research is that people with mental health diagnoses should receive comprehensive medical care of at least equal quality to the current standard. Indeed there is a case for believing that those with previous mental health problems might be at high risk of medical complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular and lipid disorders therefore medical care might be appropriately enhanced in this group.”

Source: University of Leicester

Mental Health Issues Limit Medical Care

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Mental Health Issues Limit Medical Care. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/06/03/mental-health-issues-limit-medical-care/6274.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.