Mental Health-related Physician Office Visits by Adults Aged 18 and Over: United States, 2012–2014

Source: Products – Data Briefs – Number 311 – June 2018

Key findings

Data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey

  • Among adults aged 18 and over, the rate of mental health-related physician office visits to psychiatrists (693 per 10,000 adults) was higher compared with the rate to primary care physicians overall (397 per 10,000 adults), and for all age groups except 65 and over.
  • For both men and women, the rate of mental health-related office visits to psychiatrists was higher compared with visits to primary care physicians.
  • The percentage of mental health-related office visits to psychiatrists compared with primary care physicians was lower in rural areas, but higher in large metropolitan areas.
  • For all primary expected sources of payment except Medicare, a higher percentage of mental health-related office visits were to psychiatrists rather than to primary care physicians.

In 2016, mental illness affected about 45 million U.S. adults (1). Although mental health-related office visits are often made to psychiatrists (2), primary care physicians can serve as the main source of treatment for patients with mental health issues (3); however, availability of provider type may vary by geographic region (3,4). This report uses data from the 2012–2014 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) to examine adult mental health-related physician office visits by specialty and selected patient characteristics.

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