Which individuals with affective symptoms seek help? Results from the Zurich epidemiological study.
Burns T., Eichenberger A., Eich D., Ajdacic-Gross V., Angst J., Rössler W.
OBJECTIVE: Several factors influence whether individuals with affective disorders seek help. The Zurich cohort study provides an opportunity to explore patient-based factors without confounding with problems of access. This study aims to identify features which predict help-seeking behaviour in symptomatic individuals and to explore failure of help seeking in those who did not. METHOD: Characteristics of currently symptomatic 40-year-old individuals in a stratified epidemiological sample were tested against help-seeking behaviour using bivariate statistics and logistic regression. Individual predictors were identified and interaction effects tested. RESULTS: Thirty-one per cent of the 364 subjects sought help in the preceding year. Past treatment and living alone were significantly associated with treatment. Total number of symptoms and several individual symptoms correlated with treatment in the bivariate analyses but regression analysis identified "unfounded self-reproach" and "hopelessness" interacting with social support to predict the best treatment. CONCLUSION: Social support is strongly protective against needing help in the presence of distressing affective symptoms unless these symptoms become elaborated into conclusions about their meaning and prognostic significance.