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The understanding of pathways into care is necessary to plan services and identify health care needs of patients. We set out to study these pathways into care in south Asian and white elderly patients coming into contact with secondary care psychiatric services. All inpatients, day patients and community assessments of patients over 65 being referred for the first time or after a gap of one year were invited to take part in the study over a 6 month period and those willing were interviewed. Pathways to care encounter, GP satisfaction, Past Psychiatric History Schedule and menul illness beliefs were studied. Only the pathways and GP satisfaction are presented here. Of 117 patients, 71 were white and 46 south Asians. South Asians were more likely to ask for help but had longer delays in contacting psychiatric services. They were also more dissatisfied with their GPs. A complex interaction of interpersonal and intrapersonal factors influences pathways into help-seeking.