Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 412–418 | Cite as

Barriers to Depression Treatment Among Low-Income, Latino Emergency Department Patients

  • Anjanette Wells
  • Isabel T. Lagomasino
  • Lawrence A. Palinkas
  • Jennifer M. Green
  • Diana Gonzalez
Brief Report


Low-income and Latinos use the emergency department (ED) as a primary source of care. Also, the depression prevalence in ED patients is high, making the ED a compelling venue for depression screening and intervention. This study examined barriers and facilitators to depression treatment among low-income, predominantly Latino ED patients. We conducted telephone interviews with 24 ED patients (18–62 years of age, 79 % female) who dropped out of a depression treatment intervention. Using grounded theory, we analyzed perceptions of depression and treatment, and barriers and facilitators to mental health treatment. Although most patients acknowledged signs of depression, there was a lack of readiness to seek help. Patients reported negative perceptions about anti-depressant medication, even if they had no previous use. Barriers to treatment included transportation concerns, employment/unemployment, patient-provider issues, and immigrant documentation. Identified facilitators included consistent provider advice and “talking.” This study introduced new misunderstanding and miscommunication barriers.


Emergency department Depression Low-income Minority Latino 



This project was supported by Robert Wood Johnson Finding Answers Grant, Grant #59743 (PI: Isabel Lagomasino, PhD, MSHS). We would like to thank Sarita Mohonty, PhD, MPH, Alina Molina, MSW, Maria Pallares, Lisa Perez, BA, and Silvia Simenthal, MSW for assistance with data collection and valuable contributions to this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anjanette Wells
    • 1
  • Isabel T. Lagomasino
    • 2
  • Lawrence A. Palinkas
    • 3
  • Jennifer M. Green
    • 2
  • Diana Gonzalez
    • 4
  1. 1.Brown School of Social WorkWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral SciencesKeck School of Medicine at USCLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Special Service for Groups, Weber Community CenterLos AngelesUSA

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