Prescribing politics : an examination of the local and global factors which govern access to "atypical" psychotropic medications for Oregon's unfunded clients Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/m900nx89h

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  • This thesis is based on a study conducted for the state of Oregon's Office of Mental Health Services (OMHS). OMHS' primary research objectives included 1) the identification of the unfunded population (individuals who are uninsured and ineligible for Medicaid) who seek services at community mental health programs and 2) an examination of this group's access to atypical antipsychotic and antidepressant medications. OMHS sought this data in order to inform legislative decisions regarding a forthcoming state budget proposal for a specialized atypicals fund. The author collected ethnographic data through semi-structured interviews with 57 mental health clinicians and 41 mental health advocates throughout Multnomah, Linn and Lincoln counties. While answers to the primary research objectives were inconclusive, the qualitative data characterizes the target population and contextualizes the unfunded client's medication access issues at county-related mental health clinics. Specifically, the study results indicate that 1) the complex characteristics of the unfunded population and the inadequacies of the available medication resource programs should be examined more thoroughly before allocating appropriated funds, 2) insufficient mental health services in general is the foremost problem for unfunded clients, and that which contributes to difficulties in accessing psychotropic medications, and 3) appropriated funds from the state's budget would not adequately resolve the medication needs for the target population. The study findings suggest that the state's concern with atypical medications overshadows existing practical, everyday problems in the clinics. The author analyzes the study from a Critical Medical Anthropology perspective, examining the relationships between the global and local contexts surrounding atypical medications, and discussing the practical use of the research data. From this perspective, the state's preoccupation with supplying atypical medications for the target population appears to be driven more by the pharmaceutical industry's profit-making interests and the historical role of the public psychiatric field than by quality health care decisions. The author also discusses medical hegemony in terms of the psychiatric field, and the ways in which this effects the asymmetrical power within the Oregon mental health system.
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