ASSOCIATION OF SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS WITH FIRST CONTACT AND MODE OF REFERRAL TO TERTIARY CARE PSYCHIATRIC FACILITY IN ISLAMABAD
Objective: To assess the association of socio-demographic factors with the first contact of patients and the modes of referral to a private tertiary care psychiatric facility in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Study Design: Cross sectional study.
Place and Duration of Study: Fauji Foundation Hospital, a private tertiary care psychiatric facility in Islamabad and the study period was from Jun to Dec 2016.
Methodology: Two hundred and forty six patients presenting to a psychiatric facility in Islamabad from June to Dec 2016 were made part of the sample. The age, gender, educational status, marital status, locality of residence, monthly family income, point of first contact and mode of referral to psychiatric service were recorded.
Results: Out of 246 patients (61.4% females and 38.6% males), the majority of patients (38.2%) consulted faith healers as their first contact for mental health care, followed by general practitioners (23.2%), medical specialists (14.6%) and traditional medical practitioners (14.2%). Only 9.8% patients reported to a psychiatrist directly. Local general practitioners were the primary source of referral to psychiatric services in majority of patients (40.7%). The educational status, monthly family income and locality of residence were significantly associated with the choice of first contact.
Conclusion: Strategies to improve pathways to mental health care must foster collaboration between key community-based providers and specialist mental health service providers, particularly in rural areas with low literacy and socio economic settings.