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How does mental health status relate to accessibility and remoteness?

  • Year: 2004
  • Author: Eckert, Kerena A; Taylor, Anne W; Wilkinson, David D; Tucker, Graeme R
  • Journal Name: Medical Journal of Australia
  • Journal Number: Vol.181, No.10
  • Country: Australia

The aim of this article is to determine whether mental illness is associated with accessibility and remoteness. A cross sectional, population based, computer assisted telephone interview survey, stratified by Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) categories was employed. Overall, mental illness prevalence estimates were similar using the three measures of psychological distress (10.5 percent), clinical depression (12.9 percent) and self reported mental health problems (12.7 percent). For each measure, there was no statistically significant variation in prevalence across ARIA categories, except for a lower than expected prevalence of depression (7.7 percent) in the 'accessible' category. There was no trend suggesting higher levels of mental illness among residents of rural and remote regions. The authors concluded that the prevalence rates of psychological distress, depression and self reported mental illness are high. However, no evidence was found that the prevalence of these conditions varies substantially across ARIA categories in South Australia. Thess findings may challenge existing stereotypes about higher levels of mental illness outside metropolitan Australia.

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