, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 467-486

Including Ethnic Minorities in Mental Health Intervention Research: A Practical Approach to a Long-Standing Problem

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Abstract

This paper examines a controversy that arose while developing a supplement to Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General that was focused on ethnic minority mental health. The controversy involved whether and how to make recommendations about ethnic minorities seeking mental health care. We found that few studies provided information on outcomes of mental health care for ethnic minorities. In this paper, we discuss outcomes of mental health care for ethnic minorities and how to proceed in developing an evidence base for understanding mental health care and minorities. We conclude that entering representative (based on population) numbers of ethnic minorities in efficacy trials is unlikely to produce useful information on outcomes of care because the numbers will be too small to produce reliable findings. We also conclude that while conducting randomized efficacy trials for all mental health interventions for each ethnic group would be impractical, innovative and theoretically informed studies that focus on specific cultural groups are needed to advance the knowledge base. We call for theory-driven research focused on mental health disparities that has the potential for understanding disparities and improving outcomes for ethnic minority populations.