Korean J Clin Pharm.  2017 Mar;27(1):44-54. 10.24304/kjcp.2017.27.1.44.

The Effect of Stress and Depression on Unmet Medical Needs

  • 1Korea Health Promotion Foundation, Seoul 04554, Republic of Korea.
  • 2Institute of Health Services Research, Yonsei University, Seoul 03722, Republic of Korea.
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, 03722, Republic of Korea.
  • 4College of Pharmacy, University of the Pacific, California 95817, United States of America.
  • 5College of Pharmacy, Sookmyung Women's University, Seoul 04310, Republic of Korea. eun-cho@sm.ac.kr


Mental health issues such as stress and depression have been regarded as major social problems in Korea. We investigated the relationship between stress and depression with unmet medical needs (UMN).
Using the nationwide database of 2010 Korea National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (K-NHANES), subjects aged 19 years or above were selected (n=6,055). In the K-NHANES questionnaire, subjects were asked about their UMN experience, severity of stress, and perceived depression lasting at least 2 weeks over the past year. The effects of stress and depression on UMN were analyzed in 4 models established by adding predisposing, enabling and need factors in a step-wise fashion. The risks for UMN were also assessed according to the causes of UMN.
Individuals who felt stress "˜very often' (odds ratio (OR) 3.28, 95% CI=2.23-4.86) and "˜often' (OR 2.53, 95% CI=1.93-3.31) and who experienced depression (OR 1.68, 95% CI=1.35-2.10) reported significantly elevated UMN rates, and these effects were substantial especially for the individuals who had UMN due to economic constraint. Females, lower education level, lower income, unemployed status, and negative perceptions about health status were found to be additional risk factors for UMN.
Our results confirmed the risks of stress and depression on UMN. It is strongly advisable to create initiatives to improve mental health, particularly stress and depression, and to fulfill individuals' medical utilization needs.


Unmet medical needs; stress; depression; medical utilization

MeSH Terms

Mental Health
Risk Factors
Social Problems
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