I came across this interesting blog post about a study from the Archives of General Psychology that found psychiatrists were being forced to limit their time with patients to 15-minute medication checkups, rather than provide psychotherapy. The reason? Insurance reimbursements favor three short sessions instead of one hour-long meeting with a client.
The blog author notes several other reasons for the shift toward medication: the public's desire for a magic pill instead of time-intensive therapy, the huge marketing power behind medication companies, and the fact that most patients who receive psychotherapy pay out-of-pocket, and few can afford to do so. Catastrophically, he notes, psychiatrists are gradually losing their psychotherapeutic skills and becoming little more than medication dispensers.
Do I agree with this blogger's take on a shift toward medication? The facts cannot be denied - the study reports that the percentage of patients receiving both psychotherapy and medication fell by around 15% between 1996-97 and 2004-05. In the end, however, is it not up to psychiatrists to offer treatment that they feel best suits their client, regardless of insurance reimbursement or marketing campaigns? I would hope that the next time I visit a health professional, the treatment that I receive is based on sound professional judgement, not how much the doctor will be reimbursed or who gave him some free samples the day before. I don't think that I'm alone.
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