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Unmet need for mental health care among veterans receiving palliative care: assessment is not enough.

Garrido MM, Penrod JD, Prigerson HG. Unmet need for mental health care among veterans receiving palliative care: assessment is not enough. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. 2014 Jun 1; 22(6):540-4.

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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether inpatient palliative care teams' assessments of psychological distress affect receipt of in-hospital mental health care (psychotherapy, psychological support, and health and behavior interventions) for seriously ill veterans. METHODS: Retrospective review of medical records from 287 seriously ill veterans who received inpatient palliative care consults between 2008 and 2010 in the NY/NJ Veterans Healthcare Network. RESULTS: Of the veterans who were cognitively or physically able to answer questions on the Condensed Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale, 44% reported psychological distress. Of those with distress, 38% accessed mental health care. In logistic regression models adjusted for sociodemographic and health characteristics, there was no evidence that psychological distress reported during the palliative care consult was associated with subsequent mental health care receipt from any type of provider. CONCLUSIONS: Efforts to increase mental health care to psychologically distressed palliative care patients need to convert assessments into receipt of needed care.

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