We retrospectively investigated the association between the Jarman and Townsend indices of deprivation and referral rates to community mental health teams (CMHTs) and in-patient admissions rates, including the contribution of general practice factors to these rates. The samples consisted of all community/out-patient referrals and admissions to four CMHTs over 1 year.
Low positive correlation was found between community/out-patient referral rates for all diagnoses and psychosis with the Jarman index, and between both the indices and admission rates for all diagnoses and non-psychosis. Referrals from general practitioners (GPs) varied nearly 40-fold and were not related to either indices, fundholding status or having practice manager or practice nurse.
Overall, the Jarman index appears to be a more useful index for planning psychiatric service provision. However, because of the small correlation with referral and admission rates, deprivation indices in themselves would be of limited value, as there may be other relevant factors that require investigating. GP characteristics investigated did not predict referral rates.
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