Australians with a mental health condition face higher barriers to accessing healthcare: study

Doug Hendrie

16/07/2018 3:25:35 PM

Australians with mental health issues have more difficulty accessing the vital healthcare they need, a new study has found

Healthcare is harder for some to access than others
Healthcare is harder for some to access than others

The Australian Health Review study, ‘Disparities in access to health care in Australia for people with mental health conditions’ found that barriers to access for people with a mental health issue were on average 10% higher than people without a condition.
The largest barrier was affordability, but the largest disparity between the two groups was in a lack of respect shown by hospital staff, the survey of more than 5000 Australians discovered. 
‘Compared with the rest of the community, Australians with mental health conditions have additional challenges negotiating the health system, and are more likely to experience barriers to access to care across a wide range of measures,’ the study concludes.
‘Understanding the extent to which people with mental health conditions experience barriers throughout the pathway to accessing care is crucial to inform care planning and delivery for this vulnerable group.’
Lead author Lisa Corscadden told newsGP that it seemed people with a mental health condition were paying more out-of-pocket compared to other patients.
She said it was surprising there was a ‘pronounced difference’ in the way the survey respondents described how they were treated by hospital staff, with people with a mental condition significantly more likely to report a lack of respect. She cautioned, however, that this finding was based on a smaller subset of respondents.
But Ms Corscadden said that access to GPs was a success story.
‘For chronic disease care, respondents were less likely to have barriers to access, so something is going right there for access to GPs,’ she said.
‘The question is now how to get better access across the healthcare system.’

Access to healthcare Mental health

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