Practice Patterns and Potential Solutions to the Shortage of Providers of Older Adult Mental Health Services

Nancy P. Hanrahan, Eileen M. Sullivan-Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Little is known about the contribution of advanced practice nurses (APNs) to the mental health care of older adults. This study describes mental health services to older adults by APNs compared with primary care physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. The study uses a retrospective, cross-sectional design with a 5% national sample of 1999 Medicare outpatient claims. Bivariate statistics and multinomial logit models were used to determine differences among these mental health providers. A small proportion of the nationally available providers (10.4%) submitted claims for mental health services rendered to older adults. APNs, psychiatrists, and primary care physicians care for a disproportionate number of rural and poor older adults with complex medical/psychiatric needs compared with psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. APNs seem to be an untapped resource for providing mental health services to older adults. Health policy reform is needed to remove barriers to meet mental health care needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-245
Number of pages10
JournalPolicy, Politics, & Nursing Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2005



  • advanced practice nurse
  • aging
  • medicare
  • mental illness
  • psychiatrist
  • workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects

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