AIM: To determine: (i) wait times and out-of-pocket costs for children attending private specialists for initial mental health appointments; and (ii) whether these differed between specialists working in metropolitan versus rural areas and in low, medium and high socio-economic areas.
METHODS: Prospective secret shopper study whereby a researcher posed as a parent seeking an appointment for her child with anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. We contacted 317 private paediatrician, psychiatrist and psychologist practices in Victoria and South Australia between 12 March and 5 May 2019.
RESULTS: One third (29.8%) of private practices were closed to new referrals. The average wait times for paediatricians, psychiatrists, and psychologists were 44, 41 and 34 days, respectively. Average out-of-pocket costs quoted were AU$120 for paediatricians, AU$176 for psychiatrists and AU$85 for psychologists.
CONCLUSION: Parents face extensive wait times and substantial out-of-pocket costs when seeking private mental health services for their child.
- Appointments and Schedules
- Health Services Accessibility
- Mental Health
- Prospective Studies
- South Australia
- Waiting Lists
- wait time
- health service
- mental health