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Diagnostic specificity and mental health service utilization among veterans with newly diagnosed anxiety disorders.

Barrera TL, Mott JM, Hundt NE, Mignogna J, Yu HJ, Stanley MA, Cully JA. Diagnostic specificity and mental health service utilization among veterans with newly diagnosed anxiety disorders. General hospital psychiatry. 2014 Mar 1; 36(2):192-8.

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OBJECTIVE: This study examined rates of specific anxiety diagnoses (posttraumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobia) and anxiety disorder not otherwise specified (anxiety NOS) in a national sample of Veterans and assessed their mental health service utilization. METHOD: This study used administrative data extracted from Veteran Health Administration outpatient records to identify patients with a new anxiety diagnosis in fiscal year 2010 (N = 292,244). Logistic regression analyses examined associations among diagnostic specificity, diagnostic location, and mental health service utilization. RESULTS: Anxiety NOS was diagnosed in 38% of the sample. Patients in specialty mental health were less likely to receive an anxiety NOS diagnosis than patients in primary care (odds ratio [OR] = 0.36). Patients with a specific anxiety diagnosis were more likely to receive mental health services than those with anxiety NOS (OR = 1.65), as were patients diagnosed in specialty mental health compared with those diagnosed in primary care (OR = 16.29). CONCLUSION: Veterans diagnosed with anxiety NOS are less likely to access mental health services than those with a specific anxiety diagnosis, suggesting the need for enhanced diagnostic and referral practices, particularly in primary care settings.

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