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Previous cross-sectional studies revealed inconsistent results regarding mental health treatment preferences among the general population. In particular, it is unclear to what extent specific age groups approve psychotherapy or psychotropic medication for the treatment of mental disorders. We explore whether treatment recommendations of either psychotherapy or psychiatric medication change over the lifespan which includes age-related effects due to increasing age of a person, cohort effects that reflect specific opinions during the time a person was born and period effects that reflect societal changes.
Using data from three identical population surveys in Germany from 1990, 2001 and 2011 (combined n = 9046), we performed age-period-cohort analyses to determine the pure age, birth cohort and time period effects associated with the specific treatment recommendations for a person with either depression or schizophrenia, using logistic Partial Least-Squares regression models.
For both disorders, approval of both psychotherapy and medication for a person with mental illness increases with age. At the same time, younger cohorts showed stronger recommendations particularly for psychotherapy (OR around 1.07 per decade). The strongest effects could be observed for time period with an increase in recommendation between 1990 and 2001 with odds ratio of 2.36 in depression and 2.97 in schizophrenia, respectively. In general, the treatment option that showed the strongest increase in recommendation was medication for schizophrenia and psychotherapy for depression.
Underutilisation of psychotherapy in old age seems not to reflect treatment preferences of older persons. Thus, special treatment approaches need to be offered for this group that seems to be willing for psychotherapy but do not yet use it. Cohort patterns suggest that approval of psychotherapy among older persons will likely further increase in the coming years as these people get older. Finally, strong period effects underpin the importance of changing attitudes in the society. These could reflect reporting changes about psychiatric topics in the media or a general increase in the perception of treatment options. Nevertheless, more treatment offers especially for older people are needed.
In recent years, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Mental Health Declaration for Europe and other initiatives laid the ground for improving the rights of persons with mental illness. This study aims to explore to what extent these achievements are reflected in changes of public attitudes towards restrictions on mentally ill people.
Data from two population surveys that have been conducted in the ‘new’ States of Germany in 1993 and 2011 are compared with each other.
The proportion of respondents accepting compulsory admission of mentally ill persons to a psychiatric hospital remained unchanged in general, but the proportion opposing compulsory admission on grounds not sanctioned by law declined. In contrast, more respondents were opposed to permanently revoking the driver's license and fewer supported abortion and (voluntary) sterilisation in 2011. Concerning the right to vote and compulsory sterilisation, the proportion of those who did not give their views increased most.
Two divergent trends in public attitudes towards restrictions on people with mental disorders emerge: While, in general, people's views on patients' rights have become more liberal, the public is also more inclined to restricting patients’ freedom in case of deviant behaviour.
To examine barriers to initiation and continuation of mental health treatment among individuals with common mental disorders.
Data were from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Representative household samples were interviewed face to face in 24 countries. Reasons to initiate and continue treatment were examined in a subsample (n = 636 78) and analyzed at different levels of clinical severity.
Among those with a DSM-IV disorder in the past 12 months, low perceived need was the most common reason for not initiating treatment and more common among moderate and mild than severe cases. Women and younger people with disorders were more likely to recognize a need for treatment. A desire to handle the problem on one's own was the most common barrier among respondents with a disorder who perceived a need for treatment (63.8%). Attitudinal barriers were much more important than structural barriers to both initiating and continuing treatment. However, attitudinal barriers dominated for mild-moderate cases and structural barriers for severe cases. Perceived ineffectiveness of treatment was the most commonly reported reason for treatment drop-out (39.3%), followed by negative experiences with treatment providers (26.9% of respondents with severe disorders).
Low perceived need and attitudinal barriers are the major barriers to seeking and staying in treatment among individuals with common mental disorders worldwide. Apart from targeting structural barriers, mainly in countries with poor resources, increasing population mental health literacy is an important endeavor worldwide.
The World Mental Health Survey Initiative (WMHSI) has advanced our understanding of mental disorders by providing data suitable for analysis across many countries. However, these data have not yet been fully explored from a cross-national lifespan perspective. In particular, there is a shortage of research on the relationship between mood and anxiety disorders and age across countries. In this study we used multigroup methods to model the distribution of 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI mood and anxiety disorders across the adult lifespan in relation to determinants of mental health in 10 European Union (EU) countries.
Logistic regression was used to model the odds of any mood or any anxiety disorder as a function of age, gender, marital status, urbanicity and employment using a multigroup approach (n = 35500). This allowed for the testing of specific lifespan hypotheses across participating countries.
No simple geographical pattern exists with which to describe the relationship between 12-month prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders and age. Of the adults sampled, very few aged ⩾80 years met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for these disorders. The associations between these disorders and key sociodemographic variables were relatively homogeneous across countries after adjusting for age.
Further research is required to confirm that there are indeed stages in the lifespan where the reported prevalence of mental disorders is low, such as among younger adults in the East and older adults in the West. This project illustrates the difficulties in conducting research among different age groups simultaneously.
There is an ongoing debate whether biological illness explanations improve tolerance towards persons with mental illness or not. Several theoretical models have been proposed to predict the relationship between causal beliefs and social acceptance. This study uses path models to compare different theoretical predictions regarding attitudes towards persons with schizophrenia, depression and alcohol dependence.
In a representative population survey in Germany (n = 3642), we elicited agreement with belief in biogenetic causes, current stress and childhood adversities as causes of either disorder as described in an unlabelled case vignette. We further elicited potentially mediating attitudes related to different theories about the consequences of biogenetic causal beliefs (attribution theory: onset responsibility, offset responsibility; genetic essentialism: differentness, dangerousness; genetic optimism: treatability) and social acceptance. For each vignette condition, we calculated a multiple mediator path model containing all variables.
Biogenetic beliefs were associated with lower social acceptance in schizophrenia and depression, and with higher acceptance in alcohol dependence. In schizophrenia and depression, perceived differentness and dangerousness mediated the largest indirect effects, the consequences of biogenetic causal explanations thus being in accordance with the predictions of genetic essentialism. Psychosocial causal beliefs had differential effects: belief in current stress as a cause was associated with higher acceptance in schizophrenia, while belief in childhood adversities resulted in lower acceptance of a person with depression.
Biological causal explanations seem beneficial in alcohol dependence, but harmful in schizophrenia and depression. The negative correlates of believing in childhood adversities as a cause of depression merit further exploration.
During the last two decades, the change from custodial care provided by large institutions to community-focused services made considerable progress in Germany. However, nothing is known about how this is reflected in the public's acceptance of community psychiatry services.
The study is based on data from two population surveys among German citizens aged 18 years and over, living in the ‘old’ German States. The first was conducted in 1990 (n = 3067), the second in 2011 (n = 2416). With the help of identical questions, respondents’ attitudes towards psychiatric units at general hospitals and group homes for mentally ill people were assessed.
While the proportion of the public that explicitly welcomed establishing psychiatric units at general hospitals and opening group homes for mentally ill people decreased, the proportion of those who reacted with indifference increased. The proportion of the German population that explicitly rejected the implementation of these services remained unchanged.
While community psychiatry services expanded considerably over the last few years, the public's attitude towards them has not changed substantially.
It is often assumed that psychiatric units at general hospitals attract less stigma than do specialized psychiatric hospitals, but so far this has not been examined empirically.
We conducted a representative population survey in Germany (n = 2410) in order to compare attitudes towards psychiatric units and attitudes towards psychiatric hospitals. Two subsamples were presented with identical items concerning either psychiatric units or hospitals. We conducted multinomial logit analyses of answer categories to detect any differences in attitudes.
A majority of respondents held favourable opinions of psychiatric in-patient care at both psychiatric units and psychiatric hospitals. Attitudes towards units and hospitals did not differ meaningfully.
The influence of location on the image of psychiatric care has been over-estimated. We discuss other implications of locating psychiatric care at general hospitals.
Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide; however, little
information is available about the treatment of suicidal people, or about
barriers to treatment.
To examine the receipt of mental health treatment and barriers to care
among suicidal people around the world.
Twenty-one nationally representative samples worldwide
(n=55 302; age 18 years and over) from the World
Health Organization's World Mental Health Surveys were interviewed
regarding past-year suicidal behaviour and past-year healthcare use.
Suicidal respondents who had not used services in the past year were
asked why they had not sought care.
Two-fifths of the suicidal respondents had received treatment (from 17%
in low-income countries to 56% in high-income countries), mostly from a
general medical practitioner (22%), psychiatrist (15%) or
non-psychiatrist (15%). Those who had actually attempted suicide were
more likely to receive care. Low perceived need was the most important
reason for not seeking help (58%), followed by attitudinal barriers such
as the wish to handle the problem alone (40%) and structural barriers
such as financial concerns (15%). Only 7% of respondents endorsed stigma
as a reason for not seeking treatment.
Most people with suicide ideation, plans and attempts receive no
treatment. This is a consistent and pervasive finding, especially in
low-income countries. Improving the receipt of treatment worldwide will
have to take into account culture-specific factors that may influence the
process of help-seeking.
Several population studies on beliefs about depression carried out in western countries during the 1990s have shown that the public clearly favors psychotherapy over antidepressant medication. The present study examines whether this phenomenon still exists at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Materials and Methods.
In 2009, a telephone survey was conducted among the population of Vienna aged 16 years and older (n = 1205). A fully structured interview was administered which began with the presentation of a vignette depicting a case of depression fulfilling the diagnostic criteria of DSM-IV for a moderate depressive episode.
Psychotherapists were most frequently endorsed as source of professional help. Antidepressant medication still was more frequently advised against than recommended. Respondents familiar with the treatment of depression tended to be more ready to recommend to seek help from mental health professionals and to endorse various treatment options, particularly medication.
At the end of the first decade of this century, there still exists a large gap between the public's beliefs and what mental health professionals consider appropriate for the treatment of depression. Therefore, further effort to improve the public's mental health literacy seems necessary.
Many people suffering from mental disorders do not seek appropriate help. We have examined attitudes that further or hinder help-seeking for depression with an established socio-psychological model, the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), comparing models for respondents with and without depressive symptoms.
A qualitative preparatory study (n=29) elicited salient behavioural (BB), normative (NB) and control beliefs (CB) that were later included in the TPB questionnaire. Telephone interviews with a representative population sample in Germany (n=2303) started with a labelled vignette describing symptoms of a major depression, followed by items covering the components of the TPB. Intention to see a psychiatrist for the problem described was elicited at the beginning and at the end of the interview. We screened participants for current depressive symptoms using the mood subscale of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9).
In non-depressed respondents (n=2167), a TPB path model predicted 42% of the variance for the first and 51% for the second question on intention. In an analogous model for depressed respondents (n=136), these values increased to 50% and 61% respectively. Path coefficients in both models were similar. In both depressed and non-depressed persons, attitude towards the behaviour was more important than the subjective norm, whereas perceived behavioural control was of minor influence.
Willingness to seek psychiatric help for depression can largely be explained by a set of attitudes and beliefs as conceptualized by the TPB. Our findings suggest that changing attitudes in the general population are likely to effect help-seeking when people experience depressive symptoms.
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