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The aim of the study is to examine the utilisation of outpatient mental health care to gain better knowledge about who is searching for help and why. Therefore, the data of N=718 patients was collected at 9 practices of mental health therapists all over Germany.
Those were statistically compared to (1) common epidemiological surveys and (2) one each other e. g. by age, gender and psychiatric disorders to point out what factors are leading to an increased utilisation of specialised care. Furthermore, the findings should show, what patients are reached best by ambulatory therapy-settings.
The results indicate that, while the boys-girls ratio was almost the same as in epidemiological surveys, age and type of disorder are important factors in utilisation of mental health care. We could show that Hyperkinetic Disorders were overrepresented in all age- and gender-defined subgroups while for example conduct disorders showed significantly less than expected. The comparison between the single therapists showed great differences in the composition of the patient-collectives regarding mainly the diagnoses, while age-groups and gender-ratio were close.
Conclusions: While there are differences between the single practitioners, younger children with hyperkinetic disorders seem to be reached best by outpatient treatment. In contrast, children in teen-ages and patients with conduct disorders were relatively rare in the sample, suggesting they are hard to reach by ambulatory treatment.
Finding out more on the motivation of patients with different psychiatric disorders to search contact to health care facilities should be an aim for further investigation.