Investigating unrecognized needs and structural barriers to treatment of depressive symptoms: a nationwide cross-sectional study in Portugal

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Abstract

This study assesses factors associated with perception of need and affordability concerns regarding mental health services (MHS), among 978 persons with meaningful depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire≥10). We used data from the 6th Portuguese National Health Interview Survey and used logistic regressions with gender, age, severity of symptoms, education, and income as explanatory variables. Health insurance was added as mediation variable. Unrecognized need (59.3% of the sample) was more likely amongst men, those over 65, high-educated, and those with moderate symptoms, compared to women, aged 18–34, low-educated, and those with severe symptoms. Among those reporting they needed MHS, 44.6% were not able to pay for them. Affordability concerns were more likely amongst men, those under 50, severely depressed, high-educated, and less likely amongst those within the highest income quintile. Adjusting for health insurance did not change the results in a meaningful way. Unrecognized need and affordability concerns are common among depressed persons in Portugal but seem unevenly distributed across social groups. Investing in the capacity of primary healthcare services to treat depression may be crucial to promote perception of need and reduce structural barriers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114623
JournalPsychiatry Research
Volume313
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Gender
  • Mental health services
  • Portugal
  • Socioeconomic status

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