Harvard Mental Health Letter

In brief: Psychiatrists offering less psychotherapy

In brief

Psychiatrists offering less psychotherapy

Although psychotherapy has traditionally been a key aspect of the practice of psychiatry, a report published in August 2008 finds that fewer psychiatrists are providing it to patients. The researchers analyzed data on psychiatric appointments collected from 1996 through 2005 as part of the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Psychiatric visits that included psychotherapy declined from 44% in the fiscal year ending in 1997 to 29% in the fiscal year ending in 2005. The number of psychiatrists who provided psychotherapy to all of their patients also declined in the same period, from 19% to 11%.

The authors attribute the change in practice to a combination of factors, including changes in reimbursement formulas, the growth of managed care, and the increased reliance on medications.

Mojtabai R, et al. "National Trends in Psychotherapy by Office-Based Psychiatrists," Archives of General Psychiatry (Aug. 2008): Vol. 65, No. 8, pp. 962–70.

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