Factors associated with satisfaction and perceived helpfulness of mental healthcare: a World Mental Health Surveys report

Meredith G. Harris, Alan E. Kazdin, Richard J. Munthali, Daniel V. Vigo, Dan J. Stein, Maria Carmen Viana, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Ali Al-Hamzawi, Jordi Alonso, Laura Helena Andrade, Brendan Bunting, Stephanie Chardoul, Oye Gureje, Chiyi Hu, Irving Hwang, Elie G. Karam, Fernando Navarro-Mateu, Daisuke Nishi, Ricardo Orozco, Nancy A. SampsonKate M. Scott, Cristian Vladescu, Bogdan Wojtyniak, Miguel Xavier, Zahari Zarkov, Ronald C. Kessler

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Background: Mental health service providers are increasingly interested in patient perspectives. We examined rates and predictors of patient-reported satisfaction and perceived helpfulness in a cross-national general population survey of adults with 12-month DSM-IV disorders who saw a provider for help with their mental health. Methods: Data were obtained from epidemiological surveys in the World Mental Health Survey Initiative. Respondents were asked about satisfaction with treatments received from up to 11 different types of providers (very satisfied, satisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, very dissatisfied) and helpfulness of the provider (a lot, some, a little, not at all). We modelled predictors of satisfaction and helpfulness using a dataset of patient-provider observations (n = 5,248). Results: Most treatment was provided by general medical providers (37.4%), psychiatrists (18.4%) and psychologists (12.7%). Most patients were satisfied or very satisfied (65.9-87.5%, across provider) and helped a lot or some (64.4-90.3%). Spiritual advisors and healers were most often rated satisfactory and helpful. Social workers in human services settings were rated lowest on both dimensions. Patients also reported comparatively low satisfaction with general medical doctors and psychiatrists/psychologists and found general medical doctors less helpful than other providers. Men and students reported lower levels of satisfaction than women and nonstudents. Respondents with high education reported higher satisfaction and helpfulness than those with lower education. Type of mental disorder was unrelated to satisfaction but in some cases (depression, bipolar spectrum disorder, social phobia) was associated with low perceived helpfulness. Insurance was unrelated to either satisfaction or perceived helpfulness but in some cases was associated with elevated perceived helpfulness for a given level of satisfaction. Conclusions: Satisfaction with and perceived helpfulness of treatment varied as a function of type of provider, service setting, mental status, and socio-demographic variables. Invariably, caution is needed in combining data from multiple countries where there are cultural and service delivery variations. Even so, our findings underscore the utility of patient perspectives in treatment evaluation and may also be relevant in efforts to match patients to treatments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Issue number1
Early online date1 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished online - 1 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Satisfaction
  • Perceived helpfulness
  • Mental disorders
  • Patient perspectives
  • Healthcare providers
  • Mental health services
  • Substance use disorders


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