Get access

Patient experiences with treatment in private practice compared with public mental health services


Johan Håkon Bjørngaard, SINTEF Health Research, 7465 Trondheim, Norway. Tel: +47 922 42 734; fax: +47 932 70 800; e-mail:


The study compared patient experiences with psychiatric treatment provided by private practitioners and public outpatient clinics. Questionnaires were completed by 642 outpatients in private practice and 6,677 outpatients in public clinics. The questionnaire included a measure of patient experiences comprising six items: treatment outcome, enough time for contact and dialogue with clinician, clinicians’ understanding of patient's situation, suitability of therapy and treatment, clinician follow-up of planned actions, and influence on treatment. Patients in private practice had generally better experiences than patients in public outpatient treatment. The difference between private and public patients was largest for patients with poor self-evaluated mental health or those who had just one consultation in the previous three months. Private practitioners appear to have an important role in mental health services delivery, and patients have relatively good experiences with services. Further studies that assess the patient – clinician interaction in different mental health services may give further insights into potential service improvements.