Prevalence and Frequency of Mental Health Care Provided by General Practitioners: Differences between 2 National Data Sources for the Same Population

By Palin, JoAnne L.; Goldner, Elliot M. et al. | Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Prevalence and Frequency of Mental Health Care Provided by General Practitioners: Differences between 2 National Data Sources for the Same Population


Palin, JoAnne L., Goldner, Elliot M., Koehoorn, Mieke, Hertzman, Clyde, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry


Objective: Estimates from Canada's first national mental health surveillance initiative-which is based on diagnostic codes in administrative health care utilization databases-indicate that the proportion of Canadians who receive mental health care is more than twice as high as reported in Canada's national mental health survey. Our study examines and clarifies the nature and extent of differences between 2 predominant types of data that are used for mental health services research and planning.

Method: A person-by-person data linkage was conducted between the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being and administrative health care utilization records (British Columbia Ministry of Health Services-Medical Services Plan, and Hospital Discharge Abstract Database) within a universal-access, publically funded health care system, to examine the level of agreement between the data sources and respondent characteristics associated with agreement (N = 2378).

Results: The prevalence of mental health care from general practitioners (GPs) was higher in administrative data (19.3%; 95% CI 17.7% to 20.9%) than survey data (8.5%; 95% CI 7.5% to 9.8%). Agreement between prevalence estimates from the 2 data sources was associated with age, mental health characteristics, and the number of GP visits. The median number of visits per person was significantly higher in the survey data.

Conclusions: GPs saw more than twice as many patients for mental health issues according to administrative data, compared with survey data; however, the number of visits per patient was higher in survey data.

Objectif : Les estimations de la première initiative nationale de surveillance de la santé mentale au Canada, qui se fondent sur les codes diagnostiques des bases de données administratives d'utilisation des soins de santé, indiquent que la proportion de Canathens qui reçoivent des soins de santé mentale est plus de deux fois plus élevée que ce qui est rapporté dans les enquêtes nationales de santé mentale du Canada. Notre étude examine et clarifie la nature et la portée des différences entre les 2 types prédominants de données qui sont utilisés pour la recherche et la planification des services de santé mentale.

Méthode : Un couplage des données de personne à personne a été mené entre le volet Santé mentale et bien-être de l'Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canathennes et les dossiers administratifs de l'utilisation des soins de santé (Ministère des Services de santé de la Colombie-Britannique - Régime des services médicaux et Base de données sur les congés des patients) au sein d'un système de santé d'accès universel, financé publiquement, afin d'examiner le niveau de concordance entre les sources de données et les caractéristiques des répondants associées à la concordance (N = 2378).

Résultats : La prévalence des soins de santé mentale dispensés par les omnipraticiens (OP) était plus élevée dans les données administratives (19,3 %; IC à 95 % 17,7 % à 20,9 %) que dans les données de l'enquête (8,5 %; IC à 95% 7,5 % à 9,8 %). La concordance entre les estimations de prévalence des 2 sources de données était associée avec l'âge, les caractéristiques de santé mentale, et le nombre de visites â l'OP. Le nombre moyen de visites par personne était significativement plus élevé dans les données de l'enquête.

Conclusions : Les OP ont vu plus de deux fois plus de patients pour des questions de santé mentale, selon les données administratives, comparativement aux données de l'enquête; toutefois, le nombre de visites par patient était plus élevé dans les données de l'enquête.

Key Words: mental health, general practitioners, surveys, administrative data, data linkage, data sources, ambulatory care

Received August 2011, revised, and accepted January 2012.

Results of preliminary analyses from this study were presented at the Annual Scientific Symposium of the Canadian Academy of Psychiatric Epidemiology in Toronto, November 2006, and at the International Congress of the International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology in Vienna, April 2009. …

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