Mental health service use by Canadian older adults with anxiety: correlates of service use, social support, and treatment outcomes

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Lippens, Tiffany
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Despite growing evidence that anxiety can be a significant problem in late-life, information regarding the use of mental health services by older adults for anxiety is lacking. The current research project consists of three studies focusing on this issue. The first study examines the rates of mental health service use among older adults with anxiety disorders and high levels of anxiety symptoms, as well as individual characteristics associated with this use. The second study examines various aspects of social support as correlates of anxiety disorders in older adults, and the role of social support as an enabling resource for mental health service use. Finally, the third study examines three important outcomes of service use among older adults: treatment satisfaction, perceived treatment effectiveness, and dropout. The data for these studies came from the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being (CCHS 1.2), a national population-based survey that includes 12,792 respondents aged 55+ years. This research found that older adults with significant anxiety were less likely to use services than those with mood disorders, and that indicators of need for services were the strongest predictors of use. Lower levels of functional social support were related to the presence of anxiety disorders among older adults, and lower levels of perceived emotional/informational support and positive social interactions predicted greater use of services for adults throughout the lifespan. Finally, older adults were generally satisfied with services, perceived them as helpful, and were likely to remain in treatment. Analyses indicated that individual characteristics likely play only a small role in these outcomes. In general, this project provides new and important information that can inform policy, clinical work, and future research regarding late-life anxiety.
Mental health service use, Older adults, Anxiety disorders
Scott, T., Mackenzie, C. S., Chipperfield, J. G., & Sareen, J. (2010). Mental health service use among Canadian older adults with anxiety disorders and clinically significant anxiety symptoms. Aging & Mental Health, 14, 790-800.