The elusive population: Characteristics of attenders versus non-attenders for community mental health center intakes
Abstract The present investigation was an attempt to determine characteristics of those who appeared versus those who did not appear for initial intake evaluation appointments at a traditional community mental center. Subjects were 189 individuals contacting the center for service from November of 1989 to April of 1990. Data were collected via self-report questionnaire and blind rating by clinical social workers of presenting problem for diagnostic category. Data analysis involved Chi-square procedures and Analysis of Variance. Those who appeared for initial appointment versus those who did not were differentiated with respect to employment versus unemployment, length of unemployment, tenure at current job, number of jobs in the past year, number of residences in the past year, tenure at current residence and number of marriages. Groups did not differ with respect to age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, educational attainment, legal difficulties, public assistance, referral sources, alcohol/drug problems, and a variety of variables related to mental health or treatment history and diagnostic category. Results were interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that attendance was related to recent life stability as opposed to more general demographic and socioeconomic factors and clinically related variables. Implications for increasing treatment utilization, particularly by those who are underserved in community mental health, were discussed.
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