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Patterns and Predictors of Primary Mental Health Service Use Following Bushfire and Flood Disasters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 April 2015

Lennart Reifels*
Affiliation:
Centre for Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia.
Bridget Bassilios
Affiliation:
Centre for Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia.
Matthew J. Spittal
Affiliation:
Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia.
Kylie King
Affiliation:
Centre for Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia.
Justine Fletcher
Affiliation:
Centre for Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia.
Jane Pirkis
Affiliation:
Centre for Mental Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia.
*
Correspondence and reprint requests to Lennart Reifels, Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia (e-mail: l.reifels@unimelb.edu.au).

Abstract

Objective

To examine patterns and predictors of primary mental health care service use following 2 major Australian natural disaster events.

Methods

Utilizing data from a national minimum dataset, descriptive and regression analyses were conducted to identify levels and predictors of the use of the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program over a 2-year period following 2 major Australian bushfire and flood/cyclone disasters.

Results

The bushfire disaster resulted in significantly greater and more enduring ATAPS service volume, while service delivery for both disasters peaked in the third quarter. Consumers affected by bushfires (IRR 1.51, 95% CI 1.20–1.89), diagnosed with depression (IRR 2.57, 95% CI 1.60-4.14), anxiety (IRR 2.06, 95% CI 1.21-3.49), or both disorders (IRR 2.15, 95% CI 1.35-3.42) utilized treatment at higher rates.

Conclusions

The substantial demand for primary mental health care services following major natural disasters can vary in magnitude and trajectory with disaster type. Disaster-specific ATAPS services provide a promising model to cater for this demand in primary care settings. Disaster type and need-based variables as drivers of ATAPS use intensity indicate an equitable level of service use in line with the program intention. Established service usage patterns can assist with estimating capacity requirements in similar disaster circumstances. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:275-282)

Type
Original Research
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2015 

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