, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 131-140

Self-Reliance, Mental Health Need, and the Use of Mental Healthcare Among Island Puerto Ricans

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This paper examines the relationship between self-reliance (preference to solve emotional problems on one's own) and 5 mental healthcare utilization outcomes for Puerto Ricans living in low-income areas. A random probability community sample of noninstitutionalized Puerto Ricans, ages 18–69, living in low-income areas of the island were selected and interviewed in 1992–93 and 1993–94. A series of logistic regression models tested the association between self-reliance and 5 mental health utilization measures, after adjusting for covariates measuring predisposing, enabling, need and barrier factors: any use of mental health services, any use of general health services for mental healthcare, any use of specialty care, use of psychotropic medications, and retention in mental healthcare. Self-reliance was found to be negatively associated with all 5 dependent service utilization measures. Those with a positive self-reliant attitude were 40% less likely to use care on any of the 5 outcome measures. An interaction was also observed between definite need for mental healthcare and having a self-reliant attitude when predicting mental health service use. Definite needers with a self-reliant attitude were 54%–58% less likely to use mental health services compared with definite needers who did not have a self-reliant attitude. Further, decreases in self-reliant attitude over the two data collection periods were associated with increases in mental health service use. Our findings suggest that self-reliance is a significant and robust predictor of mental healthcare utilization among Puerto Ricans living in low-income areas of the island.