Date of Award

Spring 3-29-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Cecelia Gatson Grindel

Second Advisor

Dr. Carol Howell

Third Advisor

Dr. Julia Perilla


In Healthy People 2010, mental health is listed as a major public health concern as evidenced by an alarming increase in the number of individuals who suffer from mental disorders. Mental disorders are a treatable public health condition. However, health disparities in the treatment of mental disorders are evident. The purpose of this study was to examine factors that affected health outcomes of persons with mental disorders. Two specific aims were addressed: Aim 1: to examine the relationships of population characteristics (predisposing factors and enabling resources), health behaviors (health services use and health practice); and health outcomes (physical health status and mental health status); Aim 2: to determine the differences in the usual source of care and health outcomes between individuals with self-reported mental disorders and individuals without mental disorders. This study was a secondary analysis of existing data collected from 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component Consolidated file. A sample of U.S. civilian non-institutionalized adults (N=622) was grouped according to three self-reported health conditions: mental disorders (MD), physical illnesses (PI) and co-morbid mental disorders and physical illnesses (CM). This sample was predominantly male, White non-Hispanic and married; had a high school diploma, middle to high income, and private insurance; and preferred office-based clinics as the usual source of care, F(2,29)=5.94, p = .007. No statistically significant differences between groups in usual source of care (p=.069) and physical health status (p=.490) but there was a significant difference in mental health status (p=.001). Participants with CM had a poorer mental health status than those with PI and MD, F (2,619) =21.8, p= .000. The mental health status of individuals with PI was significantly better than that of participants with MD.

Awareness of disparities in the usual source of care, health services use, and health outcomes among individuals with mental health conditions is imperative if barriers to care are to be eliminated. Innovative interventions pertinent to decreasing barriers to accessing health care and improving the health outcomes among individuals with MD must be tested. Advocating for mental health care policies that reduce health care services disparities among individuals with self-reported MD must be encouraged.

Included in

Nursing Commons