Neighborhood Predictors of Outpatient Mental Health Visits Among Persons With Comorbid Medical and Serious Mental Illnesses [2020]

Objective:
Individuals with serious mental illnesses are at risk of receiving inadequate outpatient mental health services, increasing the likelihood of medication nonadherence, readmission, and self-harm. The purpose of this study was to identify individual- and neighborhood-level factors associated with outpatient mental health visits.

Methods:
This study included 418 participants from two randomized trials of patients with comorbid medical conditions and serious mental illnesses across two study sites between 2011 and 2017. On the basis of individual addresses, data were collected about participants’ distance to the nearest mental health facility and 13 neighborhood characteristics from the American Community Survey. Three neighborhood-level factors were derived from factor analysis. Poisson regression was used to assess associations between individual- and neighborhood-level characteristics and the number of visits to mental health providers. Known individual-level risk factors for outpatient follow-up were mutually adjusted in a model with neighborhood covariates added.

Results:
Male gender, older age, unemployment, and lower education level were associated with less outpatient mental health service utilization. Neighborhood-level residential mobility, defined as the combination of percentage of residents living in a different house in the past year and percentage of non-owner-occupied housing, was significantly associated with fewer mental health service visits even after controlling for other neighborhood- and individual-level factors.

Conclusions:
Among individuals with comorbid medical conditions and serious mental illnesses, living in neighborhoods with higher residential mobility was associated with fewer visits to outpatient mental health providers. This finding suggests the importance of recognizing social conditions that may shape clinical interactions.

Benson S. Ku, M.D., Cathy A. Lally, M.S.P.H., Michael T. Compton, M.D., M.P.H., Benjamin G. Druss, M.D., M.P.H.
Psychiatric Services, 12 May 2020
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