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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;51(7):703-711.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2012.05.005. Epub 2012 Jun 1.

Role of referrals in mental health service disparities for racial and ethnic minority youth.

Author information

1
Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research, Cambridge Health Alliance, Somerville, MA, USA. malegria@charesearch.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate racial/ethnic differences in teachers' and other adults' identification and/or encouragement of parents to seek treatment for psychiatric problems in their children and to evaluate if and whether identification/encouragement is associated with service use.

METHOD:

Data on identification/encouragement to seek treatment for externalizing disorders (i.e., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional-defiant disorder, and/or conduct disorder) and internalizing disorders (i.e., major depressive episode/dysthymia and/or separation anxiety disorder) and services used were obtained for 6,112 adolescents (13-17 years of age) in the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement. Racial/ethnic differences were examined for Latinos, non-Latino blacks, and non-Latino whites.

RESULTS:

There were few racial/ethnic differences in rates of youth identification/encouragement and how identification/encouragement related to service use. Only non-Latino black youth with low severity internalizing disorders were less likely to be identified/encouraged to seek services compared with non-Latino white youth with the same characteristics (odds ratio [OR] = 0.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [0.2-0.7]). Identification/encouragement increased the likelihood of seeking services for externalizing and internalizing disorders for all youth. However, compared with their non-Latino white counterparts, non-Latino black youth who met criteria for internalizing disorders appeared less likely to have used any services (OR = 0.4, 95%, CI = 0.2-0.7), after adjusting for identification/encouragement, clinical, and sociodemographic characteristics. Non-Latino black youth with internalizing disorders and without identification/encouragement were less likely to use the specialty care sector than their non-Latino white counterparts.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this study of a nationally representative sample of adolescents, almost no ethnic/racial differences in identification/encouragement were found. However, identification/encouragement may increase service use for all youth.

PMID:
22721593
PMCID:
PMC3652396
DOI:
10.1016/j.jaac.2012.05.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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