Specialist psychiatric health care utilization among older people with intellectual disability - predictors and comparisons with the general population: a national register study

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BACKGROUND: People with intellectual disability (ID) face considerable barriers to accessing psychiatric health care, thus there is a risk for health disparity. The aims of the present study were 1) to compare specialist psychiatric health care utilization among older people with ID to that with their age peers in the general population, taking into account demographic factors and co-morbidities associated with specialist psychiatric health care utilization and 2) to determine a model for prediction of specialist psychiatric health care utilization among older people with ID.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: We identified a national cohort of people with ID (ID cohort), aged 55+ years and alive at the end of 2012 (n = 7936), and a referent cohort from the general population (gPop cohort) one-to-one matched by year of birth and sex. Data on utilization of inpatient and outpatient specialist psychiatric health care, as well as on co-morbidities identified in either psychiatric or somatic specialist health care, were collected from the National Patient Register for the time period 2002-2012.

RESULTS: After adjusting for sex, age, specialist psychiatric health care utilization the previous year, and co-morbidities, people in the ID cohort still had an increased risk of visits to unplanned inpatient (relative risk [RR] 1.95), unplanned outpatient (RR 1.59), planned inpatient (RR 2.02), and planned outpatient (RR 1.93) specialist psychiatric health care compared with the general population. Within the ID cohort, increasing age was a predictor for less health care, whereas psychiatric health care the previous year predicted increased risk of health care utilization the current year. As expected, mental and behavioral disorders predicted increased risk for psychiatric health care. Furthermore, episodic and paroxysmal disorders increased the risk of planned psychiatric health care.

CONCLUSIONS: Older people with ID have a high need for psychiatric specialist health care due to a complex pattern of diagnoses. Further research needs to investigate the conditions that can explain the lesser psychiatric care in higher age groups. There is also a need of research on health care utilization among people with ID in the primary health care context. This knowledge is critical for policymakers' plans of resources to meet the needs of these people.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geriatrics
  • Psychiatry
Original languageEnglish
Article number70
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 17
Publication categoryResearch

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