Measuring use of services for mental health problems in epidemiological surveys

Christine Sevilla-Dedieu, Viviane Kovess-Masfety, Matthias Angermeyer, Ronny Bruffaerts, Anna Fernandez, Giovanni de Girolamo, Ron de Graaf, Josep Maria Haro, Hans Helmut König

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of services for mental problems is generally reported as being relatively low. However, the methods used for data collection in surveys may have influenced the quality of self-reported service use. This study compares the information on recourse to physicians for mental problems reported in different sections of a survey conducted in six European countries. Thus, 5545 respondents were asked questions on contacts with physicians at least twice: (1) after the symptoms checklist in any completed diagnostic section, and (2) in a section devoted to use of care for mental problems. Of these 39.3% reported contacts with physicians about mental problems in the diagnostic sections, whereas 29.5% did so in the use-of-care section. Inconsistencies concerned 20.1% of participants, among whom those reporting consultations in diagnostic sections without reporting them in the use-of-care section represented the majority (74.4%). Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that age, marital status, educational level and country were associated with under-reporting in the use-of-care section, as well as having mood or sleep problems. In conclusion, services used for mental health reasons when measured through a question referring to use of care due to the presence of a mental problem may underestimate the care people received for their problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-191
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • Mental health
  • Methods of data collection
  • Survey
  • Use of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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