Duration of untreated period of psychiatric conditions in Thailand: Results from the Thai National Mental Health Survey

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Noppadol Vanichrudee, M.D.
Suttha Supanya, M.D.
Patanon Kwansanit, M.D.
Nopporn Tantirangsi, Ph.D.
Phunnapa Kittirattanapaiboon, M.D.


Objectives: To examine the duration of untreated period or illness (DUI) and factors associated with help-seeking behaviours in people with common mental disorders in the Thai population. 

Methods: Using the latest data from the Thai National Mental Health Survey (TNMHS 2013) that collected data from eligible participants aged 18 and above in the community using the Thai version of the WHO-CIDI 3.0 to compute the mean difference between the time the participants seek help and the time that they first experienced the symptoms of each disorder. Help-seeking behaviours of the participants were then analysed for their possible association with gender, age and regional difference. 

Results: The DUIs was, on average, 10.0 years. The longest DUIs was found in participant reporting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), i.e. 18.6 years and 17.8 years in those with agoraphobia. Participants reporting generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) had the shortest DUIs, i.e. 2.0 years and 2.7 years respectively. Women were more likely than men to seek help for major depressive disorder while much less likely than men to seek help for alcohol and illicit drug use disorders. There were no discernable differences in help-seeking behaviours between each region of the country.

Conclusions: There is still a long duration of untreated illness for mental disorders in Thailand possibly leading to less favorable outcomes. The DUIs should be factored in for mental health service planning for improved national mental healthcare.  


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