Barriers to mental health care utilization for U.S. Cambodian refugees

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2006 Dec;74(6):1116-20. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.74.6.1116.


Asian Americans encounter barriers to mental health care, some of which are structural, whereas others may be cultural. Using data from a probability sample (N = 490) drawn from the largest Cambodian refugee community in the United States, the authors assessed the extent to which structural and cultural barriers were experienced. Surprisingly, a relatively small proportion endorsed commonly cited cultural barriers such as distrust of Western care (4%) and greater confidence in alternative care (5%), whereas most endorsed structural barriers such as high cost (80%) and language (66%). Among those with a probable diagnosis, a similar pattern was found. Findings suggest that structural, not culturally based, barriers are the most critical obstacles to care in this U.S. Cambodian refugee community.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • California
  • Cambodia / ethnology
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health Services / economics
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Utilization Review / statistics & numerical data