Racial/ethnic disparities in the use of mental health services in poverty areas

Am J Public Health. 2003 May;93(5):792-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.5.792.


Objectives: This study examined racial/ethnic disparities in mental health service access and use at different poverty levels.

Methods: We compared demographic and clinical characteristics and service use patterns of Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians living in low-poverty and high-poverty areas. Logistic regression models were used to assess service use patterns of minority racial/ethnic groups compared with Whites in different poverty areas.

Results: Residence in a poverty neighborhood moderates the relationship between race/ethnicity and mental health service access and use. Disparities in using emergency and inpatient services and having coercive referrals were more evident in low-poverty than in high-poverty areas.

Conclusions: Neighborhood poverty is a key to understanding racial/ethnic disparities in the use of mental health services.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asian / statistics & numerical data
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / classification
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Residence Characteristics / classification*
  • Schizophrenia / ethnology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People / statistics & numerical data