Measuring Geographic "Hot Spots" of Racial/Ethnic Disparities: An Application to Mental Health Care

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2016;27(2):663-84. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2016.0091.


This article identifies geographic "hot spots" of racial/ethnic disparities in mental health care access. Using data from the 2001-2003 Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys(CPES), we identified metropolitan statistical areas(MSAs) with the largest mental health care access disparities ("hot spots") as well as areas without disparities ("cold spots"). Racial/ethnic disparities were identified after adjustment for clinical need. Richmond, Virginia and Columbus, Georgia were found to be hot spots for Black-White disparities, regardless of method used. Fresno, California and Dallas, Texas were ranked as having the highest Latino-White disparities and Riverside, California and Houston, Texas consistently ranked high in Asian-White mental health care disparities across different methods. We recommend that institutions and government agencies in these "hot spot" areas work together to address key mechanisms underlying these disparities. We discuss the potential and limitations of these methods as tools for understanding health care disparities in other contexts.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Georgia
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Mental Health*
  • Texas
  • Virginia