Background: This study aimed to characterize healthcare and human services utilization among mentally distressed and non-distressed clients receiving in-home care management assessment by aging services provider network (ASPN) agencies in the U.S.A.
Methods: A two-hour research interview was administered to 378 English-speaking ASPN clients aged 60+ years in Monroe County, NY. A modified Cornell Services Index measured service utilization for the 90 days prior to the ASPN assessment. Clients with clinically significant anxiety or depressive symptoms were considered distressed.
Results: ASPN clients utilized a mean of 2.93 healthcare and 1.54 human services. The 42% of subjects who were distressed accessed more healthcare services (e.g. mental health, intensive medical services) and had more outpatient visits and days hospitalized than the non-distressed group. Contrary to expectations, distressed clients did not receive more human services. Among those who were distressed, over half had discussed their mental health with a medical professional in the past year, and half were currently taking a medication for their emotional state. A far smaller proportion had seen a mental health professional.
Conclusions: In the U.S.A., aging services providers serve a population with high medical illness burden and medical service utilization. Many clients also suffer from anxiety and depression, which they often have discussed with a medical professional and for which they are receiving medications. Few, however, have seen a mental health specialist preceding intake by the ASPN agency. Optimal care for this vulnerable, service intensive group would integrate primary medical and mental healthcare with delivery of community-based social services for older adults.
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