Changes in racial-ethnic disparities in use and adequacy of mental health care in the United States, 1990–2003

Psychiatr Serv. 2012 Jun;63(6):531-40. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201000397.

Abstract

Objective: This study examined changes in white-black and white-Latino disparities in the use of any mental health care and minimally adequate mental health care.

Methods: Using data from the 1990–1992 National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) and the 2001–2003 National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), this study examined changes by race-ethnicity in use of mental health care among individuals age 18 to 54 with a 12-month mood or anxiety disorder. The sample consisted of 1,198 NCS respondents and 929 NCS-R respondents. Changes in disparities were estimated in the use of any mental health care in the general medical sector, the specialty mental health sector, and in total. Changes in disparities were also estimated in the use of minimally adequate mental health care (in total only).

Results: Disparities in the use of any mental health care increased over time, particularly between non-Latino whites and non-Latino blacks in the general medical sector and between non-Latino whites and Latinos in the specialty mental health sector. Disparities in the use of minimally adequate mental health care persisted between whites and blacks over time but were not detected between whites and Latinos in either period.

Conclusions: The findings of greater racial-ethnic disparities in the general medical and specialty mental health sectors indicate that more targeted policies and programs are needed to increase use of mental health care in these health sectors among persons from racial-ethnic minority groups. The persistence of white-black disparities in the use of minimally adequate mental health care warrants further examination.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / standards
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / therapy
  • United States