This study investigated choice of service provider for treatment of a mental or substance use disorder and its association with consumers’ age.
Data were from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys. Service users born between 1946 and 1964 were compared with those born in 1945 or earlier (N=4,082). Latent class analysis was used to identify groups of service users according to nine dichotomous items reflecting lifetime visits with different types of professionals. Multinomial logistic regression was used to analyze factors predicting latent class membership, with particular focus on both the direct and moderating effects of age. Analyses controlled for sociodemographic characteristics and disorder-related variables.
Five classes of service user were identified. Class 1 (10.8%) included individuals who visited six of the nine types of providers (multiple providers visited). Class 2 (21.9%) had low probability of visiting most providers (limited providers visited). Class 3 (24.1%) visited a psychiatrist (primarily psychiatrist). Class 4 (28.1%) visited a family physician or other physician (primarily family physician). Class 5 (15.1%) visited a psychologist (primarily psychologist). A higher proportion of service users born before 1946 were in the primarily family physician class. Although 21% of service users born later also fell into this class, overall they were more evenly distributed across the five classes.
Family physicians played a significant role in behavioral health treatment for both age groups. However, findings suggest that younger adults may rely on more complex combinations of service providers that will require greater coordination between the behavioral and general health care systems in the future.