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Treatment barriers are factors that prevent people from seeking or accessing health or mental health services and treatment.

Some of these factors are practical such as the availability of childcare, money for transport. While other factors such as health attitudes and client attitudes and fears including dental phobia and fear of hospital are psychological in origin.

Even when initial contact with services is made, people may continue to have difficulty maintaining contact. So barriers may interefere with treatment compliance and may lead to treatment dropout and treatment refusal

Psychologial barriers to treatment may include:

  • Fear of treatment such as ECT, needles dental pain etc.
  • Concerns around privacy. eg not wanting to go onto mixed sex wards.
  • Concerns over confidentiality.
  • Fear of stigma
  • Fear of other people in the treatment facility
  • Bad previous experience of treatments and or their settings.


A number of assessment tools have beeen developed to assess treatment barriers. These include:

  • Allen Barriers to Treatment Instrument,[1]
  • Barriers to Treatment Inventory (BTI) [2]

Mental health care barriersEdit

Treatment barriers in substance abuse treatmentEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. Allen K, Dixon M. Psychometric assessment of the Allen Barriers to Treatment Instrument. International Journal of Addictions. 1994;29:545–563.
  2. Richard C. Rapp, M.S.W., Jiangmin Xu, Ph.D., Carey A. Carr, M.P.H., D. Tim Lane, M.Ed., Jichuan Wang, Ph.D., and Robert Carlson, Ph.D (2006). Treatment barriers identified by substance abusers assessed at a centralized intake unit.J Subst Abuse Treat. 30(3): 227–235. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2006.01.002 [ Full text]

Further readingEdit

  • Allen K. Development of an instrument to identify barriers to treatment for addicted women, from their perspective. International Journal of Addictions. 1994;29:429–444.

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