Online ISSN: 1099-176X Print
Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
|The mental health care delivery system in greece: regional variation and socioeconomic correlates|
|Michael G. Madianos 1 *, Costas Zacharakis 2, Chryssa Tsitsa 2, Costas Stefanis 3|
|1University of Athens, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Nursing, Greece|
2Monitoring and Evaluation of Mental Health Services Unit, University Mental Health Research Institute, Athens, Greece
3University of Athens Faculty of Medicine, University Mental Health Research Institute, Greece
*Correspondence to Michael G. Madianos, Monitoring and Evaluation of Mental Health Services Unit, Eginition Hospital, 74 Vass. Sofias Avenue, Athens 115-28 Greece.
European Unions Commission V Directorate
|Background: In Greece, the functional capacity of the mental health care system until 1980,
was totally inadequate to meet the increasing mental health needs of the
population and to provide efficient and community-based services. This situation
was brought to the attention of the Commission of European Communities and
a special EEC Regulation No 815/84 provided the financial technical support
for an extended psychiatric reform programme. The psychiatric reform programme
initiated in 1984 and ended in 1995.
Aims of the study: This study compared the geographical distribution of neuropsychiatrists and the mental health care delivery system structural components (psychiatric beds, extramural mental health units and places in rehabilitation services), according to the regional socioeconomic development for the years 1984, 1990 and 1996. Additionally the possible effects of the operation of community-based mental health services on the psychiatric hospitalizations were examined.
Methods: Data on the geographical distribution of neuropsychiatrists in the previously mentioned years were drawn from local Medical Association from each of 54 prefectures of the country. The corresponding distribution of the mental health care delivery system components was made available from the database of the Monitoring and Evaluation of Mental Health Services Unit. Pearson product moment correlations of the regional distribution of neuropsychiatrists and the various components of the mental health care system, as population-based ratios, with the corresponding socioeconomic development in the form of the general index of development were performed. Mental hospital age standardized rates were collected from the Hospital Central Register for the periods 1984-1987 and 1990-1993. Discharge rates were elaborated according to the existence of mental health services in specific regions.
Results: A wide regional variation in neuropsychiatrists per 100000 population was found in all three years, with the majority of them working in the greater Athens and Thessaloniki areas. In the geographical distribution of health regions, there is an uneven significant decrease in psychiatric beds between 1984 and 1996. However in almost all regions an increase in extramural services between the two critical periods was noticed, as part of the implementation of the psychiatric reform programme. A parallel and more dramatic increase in the places of rehabilitation in 12 out of 13 regions has been observed during the implementation of the reform programme. At the level of prefectures, the changes across time, in the mean ratios of beds, extramural services and rehabilitation places were not found to be significant.
|A significant decrease of discharges in prefectures covered by newly established extramural services for the period 1990-1993, compared to discharge rates during the period 1984-1987, when none of these services were in operation in these prefectures, was noticed.|
|The intercorrelation matrix between the various mean values (1990-1996) of the
mental health care system components in the 54 prefectures and the local
general index of development scores produced statistically significant correlation
coefficients. It seems that the greater the level of local socioeconomic
development the higher the degree of mental health care delivery system
Discussion: Our results have shown uneven regional distribution of neuropsychiatrists, as well as extramural mental health units and rehabilitation places, despite the current reorganization of the whole mental health care delivery system. The positive correlation between the various structural components of the system in the 54 prefectures and the local socioeconomic conditions could be interpreted as follows. Urban areas of higher socioeconomic growth had a long history of development of inpatient services in mental hospitals. In these several community-based alternatives have been established for their transformation into modern ones. Urban areas exhibit also higher psychiatric morbidity and therefore increasing mental health needs. Additionally in several cities local University Psychiatric Departments have developed a variety of mental health and rehabilitation services. Many new services highly specialized and complementary to existing mental hospitals were established in urban areas. Rural areas are mostly uncovered by mental health care facilities. However it seems that the establishment of community-based services could have an effect on mental hospital utilization.
Conclusion: It becomes evident that after the implementation of the psychiatric reform programme in Greece significant progress in the areas of decentralization of mental health and rehabilitation services has been observed. However there are still areas in many prefectures, mainly rural or semirural, lacking the appropriate delivery of mental health care.
Implications for health care and policy formulation: Our results suggest that flexible models of services should be introduced for the benefit of population living in areas lacking the necessary socioeconomic resourses.
Implications for future research: Mental health services research in Greece should focus on quasi-experimental studies on the effectiveness of various models of mental health care in areas of different socioeconomic growth. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.