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Statistics of Mental Disorders in the United States: Current Status, Some Urgent Needs and Suggested Solutions

Morton Kramer
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (General)
Vol. 132, No. 3 (1969), pp. 353-407
Published by: Wiley for the Royal Statistical Society
DOI: 10.2307/2344118
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2344118
Page Count: 55
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Statistics of Mental Disorders in the United States: Current Status, Some Urgent Needs and Suggested Solutions
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Abstract

Annual morbidity statistics on the prevalence and incidence of mental disorders are not available for the United States or for any other country. However, extensive statistics are available on the patterns of use of state and county mental hospitals and outpatient psychiatric clinics of our nation, and additional statistics are becoming available on patterns of use of psychiatric services in general hospitals. The indexes developed from these data provide measures of the burden of mental disorders on the health facilities of the nation and the extent to which various subgroups of the population use specific types of facilities. Diagnostic distributions of the patient population emphasize the fact that brain syndromes with senile brain disease and cerebral arteriosclerosis, schizophrenia, depressive, alcoholic, personality and transient situational disorders are among the nation's major health problems. These data also document quantitatively the changes that have taken place in the care, treatment and rehabilitation of the mentally ill as a result of many innovations in psychiatric treatment, such as the use of psychotropic drugs, intensive treatment of acute and chronic cases, open hospital, development of additional outpatient clinics and psychiatric services in general hospitals and various intermediary services. Time series on the year and patient populations of the state and county mental hospitals provide another index of change in the care of the mentally ill. The variations in the extent of use of specific types of facilities by the different age and sex groups, and in the diagnostic composition of their respective patient populations, emphasize the major task of co-ordination and integration of services that face the developing community mental health centres. Some unmet needs for statistical and epidemiological data on the mental disorders are also discussed and some possible solutions to the problems of collecting such data suggested. The planning and realization of the various research and service programmes necessary require a considerable number of well-trained biostatisticians, epidemiologists and social scientists. To provide for such manpower, Government and our academic institutions must intensify efforts to recruit for training in these fields the most promising students from our high schools and colleges. Such action will be essential if the U.S. is to provide the many imaginative and creative scientists required to solve the complex problems that face her.

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