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Geography and mental health: a review

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In our current health care context, characterized by fiscal restraint and decentralization of accountability for health to regional authorities, geographic inequities in need, access to care, utilization, and health outcomes will come under increasing scrutiny. Knowledge gained from ecological studies about geographic disparities in mental health are likely to have important implications for policy, program planning, and resource allocations. In light of the growing relevance of the geography of mental health, this paper will review (1) selected contributions of geographic studies to the field of mental health, (2) common ecologic study approaches used in most geographic studies, (3) key conceptual and methodological challenges related to the application and interpretation of ecologic models in mental health, and (4) the wider potential of this technique for resource equity. Given the importance of geography for needs assessment and service planning, it is surprising that geographic study designs, which use ecological data, have not received greater attention as an important and viable method of assessing population mental health.

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Accepted: 11 May 1998

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Holley, H. Geography and mental health: a review. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 33, 535–542 (1998).

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