Behavioral health needs and problem recognition by older adults receiving home-based aging services




Older adults' recognition of a behavioral health need is one of the strongest predictors of their use of behavioral health services. Thus, study aims were to examine behavioral health problems in a sample of older adults receiving home-based aging services, their recognition of behavioral health problems, and covariates of problem recognition.


The study design was cross-sectional. Older adults (n = 141) receiving home-based aging services completed interviews that included: Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV; Brief Symptom Inventory-18; attitudinal scales of stigma, expectations regarding aging, and thought suppression; behavioral health treatment experience; and questions about recognition of behavioral health problems.


Thirty (21.9%) participants received an Axis I diagnosis (depressive, anxiety, or substance); another 17 (12.1%) were diagnosed with an adjustment disorder. Participants were more likely to recognize having a problem if they had an Axis I diagnosis, more distress on the BSI-18, family member or friend with a behavioral health problem, and greater thought suppression. In logistic regression, participants who identified a family member or friend with a behavioral health problem were more likely to identify having a behavioral health problem themselves.


Findings suggest that older adults receiving home-based aging services who recognize behavioral health problems are more likely to have a psychiatric diagnosis or be experiencing significant distress, and they are more familiar with behavioral health problems in others. This familiarity may facilitate treatment planning; thus, older adults with behavioral health problems who do not report familiarity of problems in others likely require additional education. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.