The study compared delays in seeking general medical care among adults with serious mental illness and a general population sample. Associations of delays with health status and use of emergency department services among individuals with serious mental illness were also assessed.
Data for 271 persons with serious mental illness (clinic sample) and 40,016 participants in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS sample) were compared.
Fifty-three percent of the clinic sample and 13% of the NHIS sample reported delays, most because of difficulties accessing services. In the clinic sample, delays were associated with receipt of routine care at a public clinic, rather than a physician’s office; more severe depressive symptoms; and functional difficulties. Delays were also associated with poorer health status and use of emergency department services.
Integration of services as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act and targeted case management may reduce delays among individuals with serious mental illness.