, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1165-1177
Date: 03 Jun 2010

Ethnic Differences in Perceived Impairment and Need for Care

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Abstract

Latino children in the U.S. have high rates of unmet need for mental health services, perhaps due to biased perceptions of impairment and need for care by parents and providers. We tested this argument using an experimental vignette design. Vignettes described children with problems that varied on severity (mild vs. serious), nature of the problem (internalizing vs. externalizing), as well as gender and ethnicity (Latino vs. Anglo). Raters were Latino and Anglo parents (N = 185) and providers (N = 189). Vignettes with Latino names were viewed as more impaired by both parents and providers, and this effect was significantly stronger in Latino vignettes with less severe problems. Severity and Latino features of vignettes also interacted with judgments of need for service. At higher severity, vignettes with Anglo names were judged to need service more than vignettes with Latino names, despite the same judged levels of impairment. Results are discussed in the light of the unmet need for Latinos.

This study was supported by NIH Research Grant # P50 MHO 73469-01 funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, and # P60 MDO 02261 (NCMHD) funded by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities.