Race and Social Problems

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 139–149 | Cite as

Differences Between African Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites Utilization of Clergy for Counseling with Serious Personal Problems

  • Linda M. Chatters
  • Robert Joseph Taylor
  • Amanda Toler Woodward
  • Amy S. B. Bohnert
  • Tina L. Peterson
  • Brian E. Perron


There is a paradox in research on African Americans and non-Hispanic whites in the utilization of clergy. Research finds that African Americans have higher levels of religious service attendance and higher levels of contact with clergy. Research also finds that despite this, African Americans are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to seek out assistance from clergy for psychiatric disorders including depression and anxiety. The goal of this paper was to investigate race differences in the use of clergy for counseling for serious personal problems. It uses the National Survey of American Life. We find that non-Hispanic whites were more likely than African Americans to use clergy for a serious personal problem. The significant difference between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites appeared to be mediated by the fact that African Americans were more likely to have seen clergy in a religious setting and non-Hispanic whites were more likely to have seen clergy in other settings including hospitals.


Race Mental health Mental health utilization Mental health care African American Ministers Non-specialty care Black American Afro-Caribbean 



The preparation of this manuscript was supported by grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to LMC (NIGMS R25GM058641) and from the National Institute on Aging to Dr. Taylor (P30AG01528). The data on which this study is based are supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; U01-MH57716) with supplemental support from the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University of Michigan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda M. Chatters
    • 1
  • Robert Joseph Taylor
    • 2
  • Amanda Toler Woodward
    • 3
  • Amy S. B. Bohnert
    • 4
  • Tina L. Peterson
    • 5
  • Brian E. Perron
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Public Health, School of Social WorkUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social Research, School of Social WorkUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, VA Center for Clinical Management ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social WorkThe University of OklahomaNormanUSA
  6. 6.School of Social WorkUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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