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Psychiatr Serv. 2006 Apr;57(4):504-11.

Racial and gender differences in utilization of Medicaid substance abuse services among adolescents.

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Department of Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University, Peabody College #90, Nashville, Tennessee 37203-5701, USA.



This study examined race and gender disparities in utilization of substance abuse treatment among adolescents enrolled in Medicaid in Tennessee.


By using Medicaid enrollment, encounter, and claims data, utilization of substance abuse services for the population of adolescents enrolled in TennCare was examined in two ways. The first utilization measure considered annual utilization rates and probability of use of substance abuse services for the statewide population of enrolled adolescents (approximately 170,000 per year). The second examined the age at which the first substance abuse service was received for the 8,473 youths who had that service paid for by TennCare during state fiscal years 1997 to 2001.


Proportionally, among adolescents, more whites than blacks and more males than females used substance abuse services. The disparities were greater than differences in prevalence rates explain. Black females had the greatest disparity in service utilization. Whites and females received their first substance abuse service at a younger age than blacks or males in this Medicaid population. However, the age difference may not be clinically significant.


The low utilization rates, in general, and the disparities in service use by race and gender raise questions about the identification of substance use problems at both provider and system levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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