The geriatric psychiatry workforce in 2002: analysis from the 2002 National Survey of Psychiatric Practice

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2005 Sep;13(9):756-65. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajgp.13.9.756.


Objective: Using the 2002 National Survey of Psychiatric Practice (NSPP), authors update demographic and professional work activities of a nationally representative sample of the psychiatric workforce who treat geriatric patients.

Methods: The sampling frame for the 2002 NSPP used the American Medical Association's Masterfile of Physicians. Professional, demographic, and patient data are compared between general and self-reported geriatric psychiatrists. Authors also present detailed analyses comparing high geriatric providers (HGPs; geriatric caseloads >20%), and board-certified geriatric psychiatrists (BCGPs).

Results: The proportion of HGPs in the 2002 NSPP was 26.0% of all respondents and was 28.1% among American Psychiatric Association (APA)-member respondents. Among the APA-member psychiatrists, this reflected a 55% increase from the 1996 NSPP. Of HGPs, 31.0% were certified in geriatric psychiatry. As compared with general psychiatrists, proportionally fewer men and American medical-school graduates were self-reported geriatric psychiatrists. Geriatric psychiatrists saw nearly three times as many geriatric patients and five times as many dementia patients as did their generalist counterparts. Mood-disorder patients were the largest treatment group, however. Investigators observed no significant differences in professional and practice characteristics between HGPs and BCGPs.

Conclusions: About 1 in 4 psychiatrists in the 2002 survey are HGPs. Geriatric psychiatrists treat proportionally more geriatric patients than do generalists, but they do not have exclusively geriatric practices. The similarities between HGPs and BCGPs raise issues about the incentives for geriatric psychiatry certification, but not the need to train subspecialists to serve as faculty and community resources.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Geriatric Psychiatry / trends*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / trends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Psychiatry / trends
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Specialty Boards