Pathways to psychiatric care of patients from rural regions: A general-hospital-based study

Xuemei Li, Weijun Zhang, Yan Lin, Xiulan Zhang, Zhiyong Qu, Xiaohua Wang, Yurong Zhang, Huiwen Xu, Shuliang Zhao, Yafang Li, Donghua Tian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Pathway studies highlight the help-seeking behaviours of patients with physical and mental illness. A number of these studies have been completed in other countries, but there have been few reports from China. Therefore, this study was planned to explore the characteristics of the help-seeking pathways of patients with mental illness from rural regions of China through the mental health professionals and treatment at the General Hospital of the People's Liberation Army (PLAGH). Methods: The pathway diagrams were documented for 203 subjects with various mental disorders using the translated version of the World Health Organization (WHO) pathway encounter form. The patterns of help-seeking and durations were analysed, and the -2 test and Mann-Whitney U test were employed as needed. Results: On average, each patient consulted 3.6 caregivers. The vast majority of patients first visited local secondary general hospitals (SGHs) (35.5%, -2 = 41.93, p .0001) or local tertiary general hospitals (TGHs) (32%, -2 = 36.21, p .0001); however, 75.4% of them had not received professional diagnosis and treatment. The patients who first contacted the psychiatric service, finally reached the PLAGH, because of poor treatment or the high cost of medical care. Conclusion: The subjects first seek the help of various sources before attending PLAGH due to a lack of awareness of the treatment services and the fear of the stigma associated with mental disorders. The primary care, even the local general hospital, did not act as a gatekeeper to psychiatric services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-289
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Help-seeking pathway
  • mental health professional
  • psychiatric care
  • rural region

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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