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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2009 Oct;77(5):1000-5. doi: 10.1037/a0017065.

Use of specialty mental health services by Asian Americans with psychiatric disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Research suggests that Asian Americans underutilize mental health services but an understanding of the multiple factors involved in utilization has not been examined in a nationally representative sample. The current study analyzed data from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) and examined 368 individuals with disorders to understand utilization and what factors were related to the utilization of specialty mental health services. Significant underutilization was found for Asian Americans; moreover, underutilization was especially acute among Asian American immigrants. For U.S.-born Asian Americans, use of primary care services was significantly associated with use of mental health services, but for foreign-born Asian Americans, use of primary care services was unrelated to mental health services use. For both U.S.-born and foreign-born Asian Americans, use of alternative services appeared to significantly affect whether Asian Americans with disorders utilize mental health services, but the nature of the influence varied depending on the individual's level of English-language proficiency. These findings revealed that a major mental health disparity, the underutilization of mental health services by Asian Americans, was nuanced by use of other health-related services and immigration-related factors.

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