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Outpatient care use among female veterans: differences between mental health and non-mental health users.

Forneris CA, Bosworth HB, Butterfield MI. Outpatient care use among female veterans: differences between mental health and non-mental health users. Military medicine. 2002 Jan 1; 167(1):10-3.

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We examined the influence of mental health service use on outpatient health service use among female veterans. We conducted a retrospective and correlational study of treatment-seeking women and their pattern of health service use and the relationship between mental health and somatoform symptoms and service use. Data were obtained from a self-report measure designed to screen for mental and somatoform symptoms and from a federally maintained database of all outpatient contacts. Women who used mental health services were more likely to have a greater number of non-mental health visits than women who did not. The most commonly endorsed somatoform symptoms were feeling tired or having low energy and pain in extremities and joints. These symptoms were correlated with non-mental health service use, as were back pain, menstrual pain or problems, and trouble sleeping. We conclude that a history of somatoform symptoms might increase rates of health service use despite treatment for mental problems.

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