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The chronically mentally ill in primary care1

  • Darrel A. Regier (a1), Jack D. Burke (a1), Ronald W. Manderscheid (a1) and Barbara J. Burns (a1)


The role of primary care physicians in addressing the needs of chronically mentally ill patients is examined from three perspectives: (1) assessing community prevalence; (2) treating chronic medical problems in the context of other human service needs; and (3) treating specific types of chronic mental disorders. About 30% of primary care patients were found to have at least one Research Diagnostic Criteria mental disorder, five-sixths of which had a duration greater than 1 year. However, about 9% of patients had some impairment and 2% had severe impairment associated with a mental disorder. Although affective disorders have the highest overall rates, personality, psychotic, and anxiety disorders contribute the greatest proportion of severe disability.


Corresponding author

2Address for correspondence: Dr D. A. Regier, Room 18C-26, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, USA.


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Based on a paper presented at the 1982 Symposium of the Section of Epidemiology and Community Psychiatry of the World Psychiatric Association, 1982.



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