Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Respondents to APA Poll Express Confidence in Psychiatry as Innovative Field

Nearly three-quarters of respondents to an APA survey released this week said that they believe psychiatry is an innovative field that helps people with mental and substance use disorders. In addition, half of the respondents said they would consider brain imaging or genetic testing if it was recommended by a physician.

The survey asked respondents a series of questions about their awareness of a variety of innovative mental health tests and treatments—brain imaging, genetic testing, ketamine, psychedelic drugs, and deep brain stimulation—as well as about emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, and virtual reality. Respondents were also queried about current events, stress, and anxiety.

Overall awareness of some of the latest tests and treatments for mental or substance use disorders is generally low: 40% of respondents said they had seen, read, or heard “some” or “a lot” about brain imaging (the remainder said they had seen, read, or heard not much or nothing at all). Thirty-nine percent said they knew about genetic testing, and the same percentage said they had seen, read, or heard about psychedelic drugs as they relate to treatment.

A total of 33% said they knew about ketamine as a treatment for depression, and smaller percentages said they knew about deep brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, or biomarkers to predict medication effectiveness or the development of mental health conditions.

However, 72% said they agreed with the statement: “Psychiatry is an innovative field, and new diagnostic tools and treatments are being developed that will help people’s mental health.” And 51% and 49% said they would consider brain imaging or genetic testing, respectively, if it was recommended by a medical professional. Further, 46% said they would consider biomarkers to predict the likelihood of developing a mental illness, and 42% said they would consider use of virtual reality technology to treat a mental illness.

Respondents appeared to be divided about the use of AI in mental health diagnosis or treatment: 39% said they are somewhat or very comfortable with it, while 41% said they are uncomfortable. Younger adults are twice as likely as older adults to say they are comfortable with AI.

Meanwhile, the survey showed that people continue to be anxious about inflation, gun violence, and the economy. After a summer of record heat, concerns about climate change have increased. Here are some findings:

  • A little more than three-quarters (76%) said they are anxious about inflation, down three percentage points from June; 68% said they are worried about a possible recession.
  • 69% said they are somewhat or very anxious about gun violence, up a percentage point from June.
  • 61% said they are somewhat or very anxious about climate change, up 5 percentage points from June.

The August Healthy Minds Monthly Poll was conducted by Morning Consult between August 1 and August 3 among a sample of 2,203 adults.

(Image: iStock/Vitmann)

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