The use of services for mental problems is generally reported as being relatively low. However, the methods used for data collection in surveys may have influenced the quality of self-reported service use. This study compares the information on recourse to physicians for mental problems reported in different sections of a survey conducted in six European countries. Thus, 5545 respondents were asked questions on contacts with physicians at least twice: (1) after the symptoms checklist in any completed diagnostic section, and (2) in a section devoted to use of care for mental problems. Of these 39.3% reported contacts with physicians about mental problems in the diagnostic sections, whereas 29.5% did so in the use-of-care section. Inconsistencies concerned 20.1% of participants, among whom those reporting consultations in diagnostic sections without reporting them in the use-of-care section represented the majority (74.4%). Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that age, marital status, educational level and country were associated with under-reporting in the use-of-care section, as well as having mood or sleep problems. In conclusion, services used for mental health reasons when measured through a question referring to use of care due to the presence of a mental problem may underestimate the care people received for their problems.
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.