Availability of mental health services prior to health care reform insurance expansions

Joyce C. West, Diana E. Clarke, Farifteh Firoozmand Duffy, Keila D. Barber, Ramin Mojtabai, Eve K. Mościcki, Kristin Kroeger Ptakowski, Saul Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study sought to examine psychiatrists' perceptions of gaps in the availability of mental health and substance use services and their ability to spend sufficient time and provide enough visits to meet patients' clinical needs. Methods: A cross-sectional probability survey of U.S. psychiatrists was fielded during September through December 2013 by using practice-based research methods, including distribution by priority mail. Psychiatrists (N=2,800) were randomly selected from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile, and 1,188 of the 2,615 (45%) with deliverable addresses responded. Of those, 93% (N=1,099) reported currently treating psychiatric patients, forming the sample for this study. Results: Thirty percent or more of psychiatrists reported being unable to provide or find a source for each of the following services in the past 30 days: psychotherapy, housing, supported employment, case management or assertive community treatment, and substance use treatment. Approximately 20% reported being unable to provide or find a source for inpatient treatment, psychosocial rehabilitation, generalmedical care, pharmacologic treatment, and child and adolescent treatment. Approximately half (52%) of psychiatrists reported not having enough time during patient visits, affecting 28% of patients. More than one-third (37%) reported being unable to provide enough visits tomeet patients' clinical needs, affecting 24% of patients. Conclusions: Psychiatrists reported constrained availability of a range of mental health, substance use, and general medical services. In order for the Affordable Care Act to realize the promise of increased access to care, the infrastructure for mental health and substance use treatment, workforce, and services delivery may require significant enhancement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-989
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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