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More Americans Seeking Therapy in 2020 Than 2019

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Key Takeaways

  • Psychiatric visits increased significantly during 2020 compared with 2019, but there was a decrease in new patients seeking care.
  • There was a 7% increase in psychiatric care volume overall, with the greatest increases seen in addiction, behavioral health in primary care, and adult psychiatry clinics.
  • Patients seeking care with preexisting psychiatric diagnoses were mainly stable, but there was a decrease in new patients, increases in visits for substance use, adjustment, anxiety, bipolar, and psychotic disorder diagnoses and for patients aged 18 to 25 and 26 to 39 years.

HealthDay News–Psychiatric visits increased significantly during 2020 compared with 2019, but there was a decrease in new patients seeking care, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Kathryn K. Ridout, M.D., Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues conducted a retrospective observation study using electronic health records for March 9 to May 31, 2019 (94,720 patients) and 2020 (94,589 patients) to examine changes in psychiatric care in a community-based health care system.

The researchers found that psychiatric visits increased significantly in 2020 compared with 2019, with the majority being telephone/video-based (+264%). There was a 7% increase in psychiatric care volume overall, with the greatest increases seen in addiction, behavioral health in primary care, and adult psychiatry clinics (+42%, +17%, and +5%, respectively). Patients seeking care with preexisting psychiatric diagnoses were mainly stable (−2%), but there was a decrease in new patients (−42%). There were increases in visits for substance use, adjustment, anxiety, bipolar, and psychotic disorder diagnoses (+51%, +15%, +12%, +9%, and +6%, respectively) and for patients aged 18 to 25 and 26 to 39 years (+4% and +4%, respectively). Decreases were seen for child/adolescent and older adult patient visits (−22.7% and −5.5%, respectively).

“A challenge highlighted by the current work is how to reach individuals with emerging psychiatric symptoms who lack prior contact with psychiatric services,” the authors write.

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