Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Psychiatry. 1999 Jun;156(6):928-34.

Gaps in service utilization by Mexican Americans with mental health problems.

Author information

University of Texas, San Antonio 78207, USA.



The purpose of this study was to ascertain the degree of underutilization of services for mental health problems among urban and rural Mexican American adults.


A probability sample (N = 3,012) was used to represent the Mexican American population of Fresno County, California, and face-to-face interviews were conducted with the use of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to analyze the data on diagnosis and service utilization.


Among the respondents with DSM-III-R-defined disorders, only about one-fourth had used a single service or a combination of services in the past 12 months, and Mexican immigrants had a utilization rate which was only two-fifths of that of Mexican Americans born in the United States. Overall use of mental health care providers by persons with diagnosed mental disorders was 8.8%, use of providers in the general medical sector was 18.4%, use of other professionals was 12.7%, and use of informal providers was only 3.1%. According to logistic regression analyses, factors associated with utilization of mental health services included female sex, higher educational attainment, unemployment, and comorbidity.


Immigrants are unlikely to use mental health services, even when they have a recent disorder, but may use general practitioners, which raises questions about the appropriateness, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of mental health care for this population. Several competing hypotheses about the reasons for low utilization of services need to be examined in future research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Support Center