• mental health services;
  • satisfaction;
  • age differences


This study examined variation by age in satisfaction with and perceived benefit from mental health services (MHS).


Drawn from the nationally representative Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys (2001–2003), the current sample included 1286 adults from age 18 to 87 years who had at least one DSM-IV diagnosis and had used MHS during the past year. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to predict satisfaction with and perceived benefit from past year MHS use. Independent variables were sociodemographic factors and objective and perceived needs.


Results from multiple linear regression analyses showed that older age was positively associated with both MHS satisfaction (p < 0.05, β = 0.105) and perceived amount of benefit (p < 0.05, β = 0.106), as was better self-rated mental health (p < 0.001, β = 0.186; p < 0.001, β = 0.177). A greater number of comorbid psychiatric diagnoses was negatively associated with satisfaction (p < 0.05, β = −0.089). Marital status was found to be a moderator of the effect of age: for married respondents, age had a significant effect on both outcome variables (p < 0.05, β = 0.102; p < 0.05, β = 0.105), but for unmarried respondents, it did not.


Our findings show clear evidence of age differences in satisfaction with and perceived benefit from MHS. The findings provide important implications for future interventions targeted to improve MHS satisfaction. Age-specific strategies should be developed to prevent delay in mental health treatment. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.