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Med Care. 2005 Aug;43(8):775-84.

Racial and ethnic differences in the mental health problems and use of mental health care.

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  • 1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, Maryland 20856, USA. kharris@samhsa.gov

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We compared rates of mental health problems and use of mental health care across multiple racial and ethnic groups using secondary data from a large, nationally representative survey.

METHODS:

We pooled cross-sectional data from the 2001-2003 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. Our sample included 134,875 adults classified as white, African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian, Mexican, Central and South American, Puerto Rican, other Hispanic-Latino, or those with multiple race and ethnicities. For each group, we estimate the past year probability of: (1) having 1 or more mental health symptoms in the past year, (2) having serious mental illness in the past year, (3) using mental health care, (4) using mental health care conditional on having mental health problems, (5) reporting unmet need for mental health care, and (6) reporting unmet need for mental health care conditional on having mental health problems.

RESULTS:

We found significantly higher rates of mental health problems and higher self-reported unmet need relative to whites among American Indian/Alaskan Natives and lower rates of mental health problems and use of mental health care among African American, Asian, Mexican, Central and South American, and other Hispanic-Latino groups. These differences generally were robust to the inclusion of clinical and socio demographic covariates.

CONCLUSIONS:

Overall, our study shows wide variation in mental health morbidity and use of mental health care across racial and ethnic groups in the United States. These results can help to focus efforts aimed at understanding the underlying causes of the differences we observe.

PMID:
16034291
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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