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J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2007 Fall;27 Suppl 1:S18-25.

Perspectives on disparities in depression care.

Author information

  • 1Division of Continuing Medical Education, University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, AL, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2008 Summer;28(3):195-6.


Depression is a major public health problem and a leading cause of disability worldwide. Compounding the high rates of morbidity and mortality and treatment challenges associated with depression are the tremendous disparities in quality of mental health care that exist between the majority of the population and those of racial and ethnic minorities. Although more study data are available on depression care for African Americans than for other groups, racial and ethnic minorities overall are less likely than whites to receive an accurate diagnosis, to receive care according to evidence-based guidelines, and to receive an antidepressant upon diagnosis. Multiple factors contribute to these disparities, among them socioeconomic and cultural issues and prejudices among patients and health care providers. Closing the gap that exists between what depression care is and what depression care could be begins with clinicians' recognizing the relevance of culture to care. Opportunities exist within the broader context of medical education, including continuing medical education (CME), to prepare health care professionals to address the myriad issues related to managing depression.

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