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Hot Topics in Research: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in Major Depressive Disorder

barbarawo Hot Topics in Research

Racial and Ethnic Disparity in Major Depressive Disorder.
Shao Z, Richie WD, Bailey RK.
J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2016 Dec;3(4):692-705. doi: 10.1007/s40615-015-0188-6. Epub 2015 Dec 16.
PMID: 27294764


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common and disabling psychiatric disorders in the USA. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are extremely important to prevent disability and improve quality of life. Recent studies have demonstrated racial and ethnic disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of MDD. African Americans (AA), Hispanics, and Asian Americans were significantly less likely to receive a depression diagnosis from a health-care provider than were non-Hispanic whites. The underdiagnosis of MDD in minority groups may be due to differences in socioeconomic status (SES), care affordability, cultural beliefs about depression, help-seeking patterns, access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care, patient-physician relationship, clinical presentation of depression, etc. Meanwhile, the likelihood of both having access to and receiving adequate care for depression was significantly low for AA, Hispanics, and Asian Americans, in contrast to whites. Similar disparities also exist in treatment outcomes. Besides the reasons for MDD underdiagnosis, additional contributing factors include access barriers to preferred mode of treatment, cultural concerns about antidepressants and different metabolism of antidepressants, etc. There are many ways to address these disparities and improve MDD care in minority populations, including universal depression screening, public financial incentives to ensure access to care in low-income and minority neighborhoods, quality improvement programs, cultural competency of mental health professionals, collaborative care management, community engagement and planning, and enhanced participation of minorities in clinical research.

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