Differences in treatment attitudes between depressed African-American and Caucasian veterans in primary care

Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Apr;62(4):426-9. doi: 10.1176/ps.62.4.pss6204_0426.


Objectives: Depressive disorders are common, and it is important to understand the factors that contribute to racial disparities in depression treatment. This primary care study of veterans with subsyndromal depression examined two hypotheses: that African Americans would be less likely than Caucasians to believe that medication is beneficial in depression treatment and would be more likely to believe that counseling or psychotherapy is beneficial.

Methods: Primary care patients with subsyndromal depression were referred to the Philadelphia Department of Veterans Affairs Behavioral Health Laboratory and asked about past experiences and attitudes toward depression treatment.

Results: Among 111 African-American and 95 Caucasian participants, logistic regression analyses determined that African Americans were less likely to view medication as beneficial (odds ratio=.44). No racial differences were found in participants' attitude toward counseling or psychotherapy.

Conclusions: The findings support the premise that clinicians treating patients with subsyndromal depressive syndromes should take into account racial differences in attitudes toward treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Philadelphia
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterans / psychology*