Indexed on: 17 Jul '10Published on: 17 Jul '10Published in: Aging & mental health
Despite evidence of disproportionate underutilization of mental health services by older adults and by individuals with anxiety disorders, little is known specifically about service use by older adults with anxiety. This study examines the prevalence of mental health service use among older adults with anxiety disorders and clinically significant anxiety symptoms, as well as factors associated with service use.The authors used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health and Well-Being, a nationally representative survey of community-dwelling Canadians. This study examined past-year use of mental health services in both the specialty mental health and general medical sectors by adults aged 55+ (N = 12,792). Logistic regression analyses examined predictors of service use among those with anxiety disorders (N = 279) and clinically significant anxiety symptoms (N = 880).Only 20.8% of older adults with an anxiety disorder and no mood disorder used services in the past year, compared to 43.1% of those with a mood disorder and 72.7% of those with comorbid disorders. In the final logistic regression models, only need variables were significant predictors of service use among older adults with anxiety disorders and among those with significant anxiety symptoms.Findings indicate that anxious older adults are less likely to use mental health services than those who are depressed. While predisposing and enabling factors do not appear to impede service use, the need for help does. Anxious older adults and those they interact with may not be interpreting their anxiety symptoms as warranting services.