HealthDay News — The rate of mental health-related physician office visits is higher to psychiatrists than primary care physicians for all adults except those aged 65 years and older, according to a June data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Donald Cherry, from the NCHS in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to examine adult mental health-related physician office visits by specialty and selected patient characteristics.
The researchers found that the rate of mental health-related physician office visits to psychiatrists was higher than the rate to primary care physicians overall among adults aged 18 years and older (693 versus 397 per 10,000 adults) and for all age groups except those aged 65 years and older. The rate of mental health-related office visits to psychiatrists was higher than visits to primary care physicians for both men and women. In rural areas, the percentage of mental health-related office visits to psychiatrists was lower than to primary care physicians, while it was higher in large metropolitan areas.
“These results together may indicate that older adults, who are also more likely to use Medicare, are as likely to visit a primary care physician as they are a psychiatrist for mental health-related issues,” the authors write.