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Psychiatr Serv. 2009 Oct;60(10):1336-41. doi: 10.1176/

Race-ethnicity as a predictor of attitudes toward mental health treatment seeking.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30310, USA.



Previous research on mental health disparities shows that persons from racial-ethnic minority groups have less access to mental health care, engage in less treatment, and receive poorer-quality treatment than non-Hispanic whites. Attitudes and beliefs about mental health treatment were examined to determine whether they contribute to these disparities.


Data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) were analyzed to determine attitudes toward treatment-seeking behavior among people of non-Hispanic white, African-American, and Hispanic or Latino race-ethnicity. Additional sociodemographic variables were examined in relation to attitudes and beliefs toward treatment.


African-American race-ethnicity was a significant independent predictor of greater reported willingness to seek treatment and lesser reported embarrassment if others found out about being in treatment. These findings persisted when analyses adjusted for socioeconomic variables. Hispanic or Latino race-ethnicity also was associated with an increased likelihood of willingness to seek professional help and lesser embarrassment if others found out, but these differences did not persist after adjustment for the effects of socioeconomic variables.


Contrary to the initial hypothesis, African Americans and Hispanics or Latinos may have more positive attitudes toward mental health treatment seeking than non-Hispanic whites. To improve access to mental health services among racial-ethnic minority groups, it is crucial to better understand a broader array of individual-, provider-, and system-level factors that may create barriers to care.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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