Gender and health services use for a mental health problem

Soc Sci Med. 2001 Oct;53(7):865-78. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00380-4.


This study addresses whether the predictors of seeking help for a mental health problem differ by gender. An adaptation of Andersen's Socio-Behavioral Model is used to identify factors associated with seeking care for a mental health problem. Data are derived from two waves of a community survey undertaken in 1992-1993 and in 1993-1994 among a probability sample of adults (18-69 years), residing in poor areas of Puerto Rico. Paired data was used from those individuals who responded to both waves of the survey for a total of 3221 community respondents. Responses from wave 1 were used to predict mental health service use in wave 2. The dependent variable is any use of outpatient mental health services in the year preceding the second interview. Logistic regression was used to model the effects of the independent variables on use. Males and females were found to use mental health services in nearly equal proportions. Gender did not have a main effect on use when other covariates were controlled. Significant interactions with gender were found for several predictors of use. The largest intervention effects were encountered in our need for care indicators. Having a definite need for mental health care and poor self-rated mental health had a larger effect on predicting use of services for men than they do for women. It is concluded that strategies designed to improve access to mental health services for minority disadvantaged populations ought to take into account gender differences in the predictors of use. Studies addressing factors influencing health services utilization for a mental health problem should consider stratifying their sample by gender. Future research should establish whether or not these findings are sustained with other population groups.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Poverty Areas
  • Puerto Rico
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors