Factors influencing care seeking for a self-defined worst panic attack

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Objective: Medical care is sought by only 60% of individuals who experience panic attacks, many of whom seek treatment at the emergency department. In this study, the treatment-seeking patterns of community-dwelling persons who experienced panic attacks were documented, and factors leading to care seeking were studied. Method: Ninety-seven communitydwelling adults who met DSM-III-R criteria for panic attacks were randomly selected to undergo in-depth structured interviews, in which they were asked whether they had considered using or had actually used medical (general or mental health), alternative, and/or family sources of care at the time of theirworst attack. Results: Use of general medical or mental health sources was contemplated by 77 participants (79%) and actually undergone by 50 participants (52%). More participants contemplated using general medical sites (72%) than mental health sites (27%). with use of emergency departments considered by 43% and family physicians' offices, by 34%; other sources of care, including friends or family members, alternative sites, and self-treatment, were considered less often. Some sources, such us ambulances, family members, and self-treatment, were readily used once contemplated. Access or barriers to treatment, perception of symptoms and of the reasons for the panic attack, and family-related variables were significantly associated with whether care seeking was contemplated. Conclusion: Use of mental health sites was rarely contemplated after a panic attack among study participants. The reasons that sufferers of panic attacks fail to seek treatment or seek treatment from non-mental health sources may be determined through further study of care seeking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalPrimary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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