Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 520–526 | Cite as

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Mental Health Care Utilization among U.S. College Students: Applying the Institution of Medicine Definition of Health Care Disparities

  • Justin B. HuntEmail author
  • Daniel Eisenberg
  • Liya Lu
  • Molly Gathright
Empirical Report



The authors apply the Institute of Medicine’s definition of health care disparities to college students.


The analysis pools data from the first two waves of the Healthy Minds Study, a multicampus survey of students’ mental health (N = 13,028). A probit model was used for any past-year service utilization, and group differences in health status were adjusted by transforming the entire distribution for each minority population to approximate the white distribution.


Disparities existed between whites and all minority groups. Compared to other approaches, the predicted service disparities were greater because this method included the effects of mediating SES variables.


Health care disparities persist in the college setting despite improved access and nearly universal insurance coverage. Our findings emphasize the importance of investigating potential sources of disparities beyond geography and coverage.


College mental health Disparities Statistical adjustment for mental health 



This research was supported in part by the VA South Central (VISN 16) Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center and the Arkansas Biosciences Institute, the major research component of the Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000.


None of the authors have a conflict of interest related to the conduct of this research or the findings delineated above.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin B. Hunt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Eisenberg
    • 2
  • Liya Lu
    • 1
  • Molly Gathright
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Psychiatric Research InstituteLittle RockUSA
  2. 2.University of Michigan School of Public HealthAnn ArborUSA

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