9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Mental Health Issues in Europe II Building I, 1E4

Divorce, divorce rates, and professional care seeking for mental health problems in Europe

Background. Little is known about differences in professional care seeking based on marital status. The few existing studies show more professional care seeking among the divorced or separated, compared to the married or cohabiting. The aim of this study is to determine whether the divorced or separated seek more professional mental health care regardless of their self-reported mental health problems. We further examine both individual and country level concomitants of marital status differences in professional care seeking behavior.

Methods. We use the data from the Eurobarometer 64.4 on mental well-being collected via telephone interviews. The unweighted sample includes 29,248 respondents (12,748 men and 16,500 women). Poisson hierarchical regression models were estimated to examine whether the divorced or separated had a higher professional health care use for emotional or psychological problems, after controlling for mental and somatic health ,socio-demographic characteristics, and support from family and friends. Country level divorce rates and indicators of the supply of mental health professionals were also taken into account. Design and population weights were applied

Results. Professional care seeking is strongly need based. Apart from that the divorced or separated more often consult health professionals for mental health problems compared to people who are married or cohabitate. Also, women and those out of work are more frequent professional care seekers. In addition, we find that the gap between the divorced/separated and the married/cohabitants is highest in countries with low divorce rates.

Conclusions. The higher rates of the professional care seeking for mental health problems of the divorced/separated can only partially be attributed to their more severe mental health problems. Moreover, in countries where marital dissolution is more common, the marital status gap in professional care seeking is narrowed to a large amount because professional care seeking among the married/cohabitants is increased.