Association of travel time with mental health service use in primary health care according to contact type — a register-based study in Kainuu, Finland

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A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
University of Oulu
National Institute for Health and Welfare
Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
Degree programme
Background: The study aim was to analyse how mental health services are used in different parts of the Kainuu region in Finland and whether travel time to primary health care services is associated with the use of different contact types (in-person visits, remote contacts, home visits). Methods: The study population included adults who had used mental health services under primary health care (N = 7643) between 2015 and 2019. The travel times to the nearest health centre in a municipality were estimated as the population-weighted average drive time in postal code areas. The Kruskal–Wallis test and pairwise comparisons with Dunn-Bonferroni post hoc tests were used to assess the differences in mental health service use between health centre areas. A negative binomial regression was performed for the travel time categories using different contact types of mental health service use as outcomes. Models were adjusted for gender, age, number of mental health diseases and the nearest health centre in the municipality. Results: Distance was negatively associated with mental health service use in health centre in-person visits and in home visits. In the adjusted models, there were 36% fewer in-person visits and 83% fewer home visits in distances further than 30 min, and 67% fewer home visits in a travel time distance of 15–30 min compared with 15 min travel time distance from a health centre. In the adjusted model, in remote contacts, the incidence rate ratios increased with distance, but the association was not statistically significant. Conclusions: The present study revealed significant differences in mental health service use in relation to travel time and contact type, indicating possible problems in providing services to distant areas. Long travel times can pose a barrier, especially for home care and in-person visits. Remote contacts may partly compensate for the barrier effects of long travel times in mental health services. Especially with conditions that call for the continuation and regularity of care, enabling factors, such as travel time, may be important.
Funding Information: This study is a part of the consortium project “Improving the Information Base and Optimising Service Solutions to Support Social Welfare and Healthcare Reform (IMPRO)”. The research was funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland, funding decision numbers 312703, 312705, 312707, 336325, 336327 and 336329. Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).
Accessibility, Finland, Geoinformatics, Mental health services, Register study, Travel time
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Lankila , T , Laatikainen , T , Wikström , K , Linna , M & Antikainen , H 2022 , ' Association of travel time with mental health service use in primary health care according to contact type — a register-based study in Kainuu, Finland ' , BMC Health Services Research , vol. 22 , no. 1 , 1458 , pp. 1-13 .