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Perceived barriers to mental health care and goal setting among depressed, community-dwelling older adults

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Mark I Weinberger1, Camila Mateo2, Jo Anne Sirey11Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, White Plains, NY, USA; 2College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USAObjective: Older adults are particularly vulnerable to the deleterious effects of depression and tend to underutilize mental health services. The current study aims to characterize the perceived barriers to care and goal setting in a sample of depressed, community-dwelling older adults. Methods: We report on the association among perceived barriers to care, goal setting and accepting a mental health referral using a subset of data from a larger study. The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was used to assess depressive symptoms. Results: Forty-seven participants completed the study (Mean age = 82, SD = 7.8, 85% female). Accessing and paying for mental health treatment were the barriers most frequently cited by participants. Clinical improvement and improved socialization were most cited goals. In bivariate associations, participants who set goals (χ2 = 5.41, p = 0.02) and reported a logistic barrier (χ2 = 5.30, p = 0.02) were more likely to accept a mental health referral.Conclusion: Perceived barriers to care and goal setting appear to be central to accepting a mental health referral among community dwelling older, depressed adults. Developing interventions that can be used to increase mental health service utilization of older adults is necessary. Keywords: depression, older adults, community, perceived barriers to care

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