Background: Recent corpus of research suggests that psychiatric disorders amongst adolescents and youths are an emerging global challenge, but there is paucity of studies exploring health services utilization by this age group in Arab region.Aim: This study focus on the health services utilization and the barriers among school going adolescents and youths with DSM IV disorders in the country Oman, whose population is predominantly youthful.Methods: Representative sample of secondary school Omani adolescents and youths were concurrently interviewed for the (i) presence of DSM IV mental disorders using the face-to-face interview, World Mental Health-Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI), (ii) tendency for health care utilization and (iii) predictors of utilization with clinical and demographic background.Results: The proportions of lifetime cases having ever made treatment contact are low, being 5.2% for any anxiety disorder and 13.2% for any mood disorder category. None of these anxiety cases made treatment contact in the year of onset of the disorder, and the median delay when they eventually made treatment contact is about 14 years. In any mood disorders category only 3.6% made contact within the 1st year of onset with the median delay in initial treatment contact is two years for the Bipolar disorder (broad), four years for Any Mood disorder and nine years for the Major Depressive Disorder group. Male gender is significantly associated with less likelihood of making treatment contact when suffering from Social phobia (p = 0.000), Major Depressive Disorder (p = 0.000) and Bipolar Disorder (p = 0.000). The younger cohorts of 14-16 years and 17-18 years of Social phobic made significantly less lifetime any treatment contact (p = 0.000). The 14-16 year olds were significantly less likely to make lifetime any treatment contact for Bipolar Mood disorder (p = 0.000), while the 17-18 group were 1.5 times more likely to do so. Over past 12 months only between 6 to 12% of those having some form of mental disorder avail of any treatment facility with utilization pattern nearly equal between the any healthcare and any non healthcare facilities. In the any healthcare services, more of those with anxiety disorders seek help from general medical doctors while those with Major Depressive Disorder and any Mood disorders are comparatively treated more by non allopathic services. Females were 13.5 times more likely to avail treatment(chi sq 7.1) as also those cases with increased severity of illness were 7 times more likely(chi sq 9.6). In the any treatment category for any 12 month disorder in general, the younger cohort of 14-16 years is 2.2 times more likely to receive any treatment over past 12 months (p = 0.042) while the situation shows marked reversal in the 17-18 age groups. Having any mood disorder is a significant predictor for the same (p = 0.040).Discussion: Present findings confer with other studies from elsewhere suggesting under utilization of health care services for those with mental illness. Since cultural teaching and traditional coping with mental illness are contributing significantly in furnishing mental health need for many in Oman, the findings are discussed within social-cultural context that forms the basis of the complex health care utilization in Oman. This could foster policies that help bridge the gap between allopathic and non-allopathic care services.
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