Original Paper

Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1093-1102

First online:

Acculturation Differences in Communicating Information About Child Mental Health Between Latino Parents and Primary Care Providers

  • Benjamin Lê CookAffiliated withCenter for Multicultural Mental Health Research, Cambridge Health AllianceDepartment of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Email author 
  • , Jonathan D. BrownAffiliated withMathematica Policy Research
  • , Stephen LoderAffiliated withCenter for Multicultural Mental Health Research, Cambridge Health Alliance
  • , Larry WissowAffiliated withJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

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Significant Latino-white disparities in youth mental health care access and quality exist yet little is known about Latino parents’ communication with providers about youth mental health and the role of acculturation in influencing this communication. We estimated regression models to assess the association between time in the US and the number of psychosocial issues discussed with the medical assistant (MA) and doctor, adjusting for child and parent mental health and sociodemographics. Other proxies of acculturation were also investigated including measures of Spanish and English language proficiency and nativity. Parent’s length of time in the US was positively associated with their communication of: their child’s psychosocial problems with their child’s MA, stress in their own life with their child’s MA, and their child’s school problems with their child’s doctor. These differences were especially apparent for parents living in the US for >10 years. Parent–child language discordance, parent and child nativity were also significantly associated with communication of psychosocial problems. Greater provider and MA awareness of variation in resistance to communicating psychosocial issues could improve communication, and improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of youth mental illness.


Children’s mental health Acculturation Patient–provider communication Immigration Latino mental health