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Physical Problems Tied to Mental Healthcare

Thursday, 19 Jul 2012 10:38 AM


Here’s a new twist on the mind-body connection: Oregon State University researchers have found people with a physical health problem – from diabetes and back pain to cancer or heart disease – are three times more likely to seek mental healthcare than those with no physical ailments.
The study, published in the journal Health Services Research, is the first to show a major link between physical health and mental health and suggests more needs to be done to coordinate care between psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and medical specialists.
"I see this study as a way to set benchmark data so that policy makers can determine how to best transition to a system that hopefully will coordinate physical and mental care," said lead researcher Jangho Yoon, an OSU health policy economist who specializes in mental health policy issues.
For the study, Yoon and colleagues examined health records for more than 6,000 people. He found people who developed physical health problems had a threefold increase in the likelihood of seeking psychological care and/or taking mental-health medicine over healthy individuals.
"The interplay between our physical and mental health has long been suspected," Yoon said. "When I have back pain, I feel stressed. And if it impacts my ability to work, or to do my usual activities, then I can feel upset or even a bit depressed. But no large scale studies existed that showed the statistical proof of this correlation."
Yoon said a simple patient survey, such as the standard 16-question Substance Abuse/Mental Illness Screener, could be an effective tool to help health providers attain proper mental health treatment for their patients.
"This is a win-win," Yoon said. "There is a chance of cost-savings in our medical system if we identify potential mental health problems early, before they become more severe. And more importantly, coordinated care and early intervention leads to better health outcomes, and better care for the patient."




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People with physical ailments are three times more likely to seek mental healthcare.
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Thursday, 19 Jul 2012 10:38 AM
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