Bias in mental health assessment and intervention: theory and evidence

Am J Public Health. 2003 Feb;93(2):239-43. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.2.239.


A recent surgeon general's report and various studies document racial and ethnic disparities in mental health care, including gaps in access, questionable diagnostic practices, and limited provision of optimum treatments. Bias is a little studied but viable explanation for these disparities. It is important to isolate bias from other barriers to high-quality mental health care and to understand bias at several levels (practitioner, practice network or program, and community). More research is needed that directly evaluates the contribution of particular forms of bias to disparities in the area of mental health care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel / ethnology
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology
  • Decision Making
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services / standards*
  • Prejudice*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States