Mental Health Factors in the Utilization of Pediatric Primary Care

Dalal C. Tonb, Sarah M. Horwitz, Philip J. Leaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The relationship of mental health factors to use of pediatric medical care in a 12-month period is examined using cross-sectional and prospective data from a community-based cohort of children (aged 4-8 years at baseline) and their families. Results from this study demonstrate that mother's self-reported mental health is statistically significantly related to the number of pediatric visits. In the cross-sectional analysis, the effect of mothers's mental health on children with 5 or more pediatric visits is moderated by poverty and mothers with depressive symptoms are much more likely than those without such symptoms to have children who are very high service users (10 visits or more). In the longitudinal analysis, an inconsistent pattern of mothers' mental health problems over a 24-month period increases the likelihood of high use in the third year and the persistence of maternal mental health problems increases the likelihood of very high use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalMental Health Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Mental health
  • Pediatrics
  • Primary care
  • Psychosocial factors
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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