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Use of Psychotherapy in a Representative Adult Community Sample in São Paulo, Brazil

Blay, Sergio L. PhD*; Fillenbaum, Gerda G. PhD; da Silva, Paula Freitas R. MD*; Peluso, Erica T. PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: September 2014 - Volume 202 - Issue 9 - p 688–694
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000181
Original Articles

Little is known about the use of psychotherapy to treat common mental disorders in a major city in a middle-income country. Our data come from in-home interviews with a stratified random sample of 2000 community residents aged 18 to 65 years in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The information obtained included sociodemographic characteristics; psychotropic drugs; mental status; and lifetime, previous 12 months, and current use of psychotherapy. Logistic regression was used to examine determinants of use of psychotherapy. Of the sample, 22.7% met General Health Questionnaire–12 criteria for common mental disorders. Lifetime, previous 12 months, and current use of psychotherapy were reported by 14.6%, 4.6%, and 2.3% of the sample, respectively. Users typically were women, were more educated, had higher income, were not married, were unemployed, and had common mental disorders. Further analysis found that 47% (with higher education and income) paid out-of-pocket, and 53% used psychotropic medication. Psychotherapy does not seem to be the preferred treatment of common mental disorders.

*Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo (Escola Paulista de Medicina–UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil; †Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; and ‡University Bandeirantes, São Paulo, Brazil.

Send reprints requests to Sergio L. Blay, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo (Escola Paulista de Medicina–UNIFESP), R. Borges Lagoa, 570 CEP 04038-020, São Paulo, Brazil. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins