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Am J Community Psychol. 1984 Dec;12(6):629-44.

The use of informal and formal help: four patterns of illness behavior in the black community.


Most studies of professional help use among black Americans fail to describe this group's relationship to blacks experiencing distress but not requesting professional help, and generally ignore the salience of informal social support processes. A more comprehensive understanding of black help-seeking behavior would come from an approach which describes both the users and nonusers of formal helping services, and examines the benefits derived from the interpersonal relationships that comprise black friend- and kin-based networks. These analyses focused on four patterns of informal and formal help use in the National Survey of Black Americans. The findings indicated that most people use informal help only, or they use informal and professional help together. In addition, gender, age, income, and problem-type were significantly related to the different patterns of illness behavior. The implications of these findings for help seeking in the black community were discussed.

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