Health & wellness

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Psychiatric appointments difficult to get in Boston, study finds

Study: Psychiatric appointments difficult to get in big cities

Many people in large cities including Boston have a hard time getting an appointment for psychiatric care, even if they have private insurance, a new study by Harvard researchers found.

For the study, the researchers called 360 psychiatrists offices in Boston, Chicago, and Houston, who were listed in the Blue Cross Blue Shield online database and posed as insured patients or patients willing to pay out of pocket and attempted to get an appointment.

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The researchers were unable to obtain an appointment 75 percent of the time. An estimated 15 percent of the clinics were not accepting new patients; psychiatrists’ offices did not return phone calls 23 percent of the time; and 16 percent of phone numbers listed in the database were wrong.

Psychiatrists in Boston were less likely to offer an appointment compared to those in Houston, the researchers concluded.

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The findings highlight the need for insurance companies to offer better access to mental health care by providing correct information about specialists in the area and whether they are accepting new patients, they wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Many people in large cities including Boston have a hard time getting an appointment for psychiatric care, even if they have private insurance.

CAUTIONS: The study looked at a pool of psychiatrists from one insurance database, so the findings may not be relevant among a wider group.

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WHERE TO FIND IT: Psychiatric Services, Oct. 15

Male, female brains respond differently
to high fat diets

New research on mice suggests that males may be at higher risk for health problems when they consume high-fat meals compared to females.

Researchers at Cedar-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute in Los Angeles fed male and female mice diets high in fats, carbohydrates, and sugar — equivalent to eating a daily Big Mac and large soda. They then looked into male and female brain response to the diet and found that male brains were more inflamed and had a higher fatty acid composition compared to females. The increased inflammation reduced the male mice’s heart function and, for some mice, led them to develop Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers then manipulated the male mouse brains to mirror the same fatty acid profile of the females and found that those brains seemed protected from health problems related to high-fat diets. However, when the researchers removed the ovaries from the female mice to simulate menopause, they found the female mice’s fatty acid tissue mirrored the males. The findings suggest that women and men should be counseled differently about how much fat is appropriate for their diet, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: New mice research suggests that males may be at higher risk for health problems when they consume high-fat meals compared to females.

CAUTIONS: The study was conducted in mice, so the findings may not translate to humans.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Cell Reports, Oct. 16

Lara Salahi

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