Go to content

Access to psychiatrist services for older adults in long-term care: a population-based study


Objectives — Although mental health disorders are common among older adults in long-term care (LTC), little is known about access to psychiatric services in LTC. We described the need for psychiatric services in LTC settings and identified variables associated with receipt of psychiatric services.

Design — Population-based retrospective cohort study.

Setting and Participants — All adults aged 66 years and older who resided in LTC homes in Ontario, Canada, between 2015 and 2016. Individuals were included in the study at the time of LTC admission or first annual reassessment.

Measures — We determined the percentage of LTC residents who received any psychiatric service within 90 days. We then compared the characteristics of individuals who did and did not receive any psychiatric service to determine variables associated with receipt of psychiatric services. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine independent variables associated with receipt of psychiatric services.

Results — A total of 67,165 unique participants were included in the study sample, 27,650 (41.2%) of whom had identified psychiatric need. Overall, 3175 (4.7%) individuals received any psychiatric service within 90 days following cohort entry. After adjustment for potential confounders, receipt of psychiatric services was positively associated with younger age, male gender, history of major mental disorders, previous receipt of psychiatric services, indicators of psychiatric need, residence in larger LTC homes, and health region of residence.

Conclusions/Implications — Receiving psychiatric services in Ontario LTC homes is limited when compared to the high need for services. Several factors other than patient need symptoms are associated with receipt of services, which suggests inequities in access to care. Improving the distribution of psychiatric services may help address these inequities, and additional psychiatric resources are also likely required to meet these needs. Our results directly apply to a Canadian context and have implications for other comparable countries, including the United States.



Perlman C, Kirkham J, Velkers C, Leung RH, Whitehead M, Seitz D. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2019; 20(5):610-6.e2. Epub 2019 Mar 1.

View Source

Contributing ICES Scientists

Associated Sites