Very long waiting times for psychotherapy

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Undersupply in rural areas for psychotherapy

According to a study commissioned by the German Psychotherapist Association (DptV), the supply of outpatient therapy places is still insufficient, especially for older patients, for rural people and for men. The current study data from the University of Duisburg indicate an acute undersupply of psychotherapy in some regions of Germany.

Undersupply in rural areas There is a shortage of outpatient psychotherapy in numerous rural regions in Germany. On behalf of the German Psychotherapist Association (DptV), the Chair for Medical Management at the University of Duisburg-Essen undertook a survey study. A total of 2500 outpatient psychotherapists were asked about patient care. It turned out that around 52 percent of all therapists surveyed had a long waiting list. In rural regions and small towns, the average waiting time is over one hundred days (104). in large cities and metropolitan areas around 62 days.

"The supply situation with outpatient psychotherapy in less densely populated regions is inadequate than in large cities," said Prof. Jürgen Wasem in view of the study results. In comparison to epidemiological data, it appears that men, seniors and people in the lower income brackets in particular are undersupplied with psychotherapy. "Based on these results, an evaluation of existing inhibition thresholds and measures to overcome them is recommended," emphasizes Professor Wasem.

No major differences in the patient groups The patient group of the 41- to 50-year-olds took advantage of a therapy offer most often. Men accounted for 29 percent of the patient structure and women 27 percent. Older patients between 60 and 90 years of age represent a significant minority. The proportion here was only between zero and a maximum of five percent. Most of the clients were 32 percent of secondary school graduates. 26 percent of the patients graduated from university and 20 percent graduated from secondary school. About 19 percent are academics.

Almost three months waiting time for a therapy place The waiting time for a therapy place nationwide averages 2.5 months. However, the waiting time is significantly longer in some regions. Only about five percent of the resident therapists can make an appointment immediately upon request. However, only 3 weeks are acceptable, as Dieter Best, federal chairman of the association said. If there is a mental illness with acute symptoms, it must be treated immediately.

52 percent were referred by doctors Over half of the patients had previously been to a family doctor who issued a referral to a psychotherapist (52 percent). Most of the patients go to the therapist at their own request and with their own motivation or take advantage of a therapy offer on the advice of relatives and friends. Therefore, psychotherapists should also be allowed to issue hospital admissions in the event of a crisis or illness, as the association called for in a statement. In addition, the needs planning should be changed so that structurally weak or rural regions do not remain undersupplied.

Long-term therapy methods are required for the treatment of chronically ill people who suffer from manifested depression or psychosis, for example, since a complete recovery is often not to be expected. Early detection plays an important role here, since mental disorders are often identified too late. Therefore, early detection should e.g. perspective for children also belong to the field of activity of a psychotherapist. (sb)

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Image: Gerd Altmann /

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