The Quality of Mental Health Care for African Americans
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In response to the Surgeon General's request for more research on racial disparities in mental health care, especially research that includes high-need populations (e.g., the homeless, incarcerated, children in foster care, and substance abusers), we examined racial disparities in the provision of mental health counseling, psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy in hospital outpatient settings using nationally representative data from the 1997 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). After controlling for diagnosis and other factors, we found that African Americans were less likely than whites to receive mental health counseling and psychotherapy, but more likelythan whites to receive pharmacotherapy. We also found that substance abuse clinics were more likely than primary care and specialty mental health clinics to provide mental health counseling and psychotherapy. However, specialty mental health clinics were the only clinics to provide pharmacotherapy. Future research should examine racial disparities in a variety of settings, controlling for diagnosis as well as other factors.
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