Patterns and Predictors of Treatment Contact After First Onset of Psychiatric Disorders

Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Jan;155(1):62-9. doi: 10.1176/ajp.155.1.62.


Objective: The authors used self-report data to study patterns and predictors of treatment contact after the first onset of DSM-III-R mood, anxiety, and addictive disorders.

Methods: Data from the National Comorbidity Survey, a general population survey of 8,098 respondents, were used. Disorders were assessed by using a modified version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Age at onset and age at first treatment contact were assessed retrospectively.

Results: There was great variation across disorders in lifetime probability of treatment contact. Most treatment contact was delayed; the median delay time was between 6 and 14 years across the disorders considered here. Probability of treatment contact was inversely related to age at onset and increased in younger cohorts. The effects of sociodemographic variables were modest and inconsistent across disorders.

Conclusions: The majority of people with the disorders considered here eventually make treatment contact. However, delay was pervasive. Further research is needed on the determinants of delay and on the low probability of lifetime treatment contact among people with early-onset psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology
  • Probability
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology