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New study shows people with mental health problems receive inadequate medical care
Date:6/2/2009

New research led by the University of Leicester and published this week in the British Journal of Psychiatry reveals that people with mental health problems are receiving inferior care for their medical needs.

The study by a team of researchers led by Dr Alex Mitchell from the University of Leicester Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, warns that medical care delivered across most branches of medicine to those with a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis is of inferior quality to the usual standard of care. This important systematic review showed widespread inequalities of care in those with mental health problems.

Dr Mitchell said: "We wished to investigate whether the quality of medical care received by people with mental health conditions, including substance misuse, differs from the care received by people who have no comparable mental disorder.

"We found that despite similar or actually more frequent medical contacts, there are often disparities in the physical healthcare delivered to those with psychiatric illness with frankly poorer care offered to (or accepted by) those with pre-existing mental health problems."

The research was based on analysing 31 valid studies (see notes to editors). Dr Mitchell said: "I work in liaison psychiatry and regularly see people who have received what they report as poor treatment by virtue of their mental illness. Often there is a temptation for clinicians to attribute any physical symptom to the psychiatric diagnosis without necessarily assessing the person thoroughly."

"Perhaps most surprising, our study found that inferior quality medical care did not depend on the presence of current psychiatric symptoms but rather was delivered to anyone with a previous or current mental health diagnosis."

"If poor quality of care is associated with a mental health diagnosis it could be because poor care is delivered by medical staff or perhaps that reduced c
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Contact: Dr. Alex Mitchell
ajm80@le.ac.uk
44-116-225-6218
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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