Who talks to physicians about mental health and substance abuse problems?

Daniel E. Ford, Douglas B. Kamerow, James W. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This is an analysis of data from the NIMH-sponsored Epidemiologic Catchment Area community-based study, investigating who reported discussing mental health or substance abuse problems with nonpsychiatric physicians. Data were from 7,092 respondents in four sites, all of whom had received care only in the nonpsychiatric sector in the previous six months. A multiple logistic model found that those individuals who had psychiatric disorders, and female, middle-aged, and Hispanic respondents, were more likely to have discussed emotional or mental health problems with their physicians. Respondents with alcohol abuse and substance abuse disorders did not report any more discussion of mental health problems than did respondents without alcohol or substance abuse disorders. Only 36% of the respondents who said they had discussed mental health problems were found to have psychiatric disorders by the Diagnostic Interview Survey (DIS), but many of those without disorders reported more anxiety symptoms. An analysis was done to predict which respondents with DIS-defined psychiatric disorders did not report discussing mental health problems with their nonpsychiatric physicians. Those less than 35 years of age, those older than 65 years of age, males, and those with only one recent visit to a provider were statistically at high risk for not discussing their psychiatric problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-369
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • alcoholism
  • mental disorders
  • mental health services
  • patient participation
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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