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Latinos Vary in Usage of Mental Health Services

Usage patterns may differ between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking Latinos

TUESDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Among Latino Americans with serious mental disorders, preferred language -- a proxy measure of acculturation -- may be more important than ethnicity in determining mental health service usage, according to study findings published in the August issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

David P. Folsom, M.D., of the University of California San Diego, and colleagues studied mental health service usage patterns in 539 Spanish-speaking Latinos, 1,144 English-speaking Latinos, and 4,638 whites who received treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression during 2001-2004.

The researchers found that Spanish-speaking Latinos were less likely than English-speaking Latinos or whites to enter care through emergency or jail services and more likely to enter care through outpatient services. They also found that there were no group differences in the proportion of patients who stayed in treatment or used inpatient hospitalization.

"The Spanish-speaking Latinos had a more favorable pattern of service use than the other two groups on some measures…. However, the Spanish-speaking Latinos had fewer outpatient visits in all three years, a less favorable pattern of service use," the authors write. "Future studies comparing mental health use may need to differentiate between Spanish- and English-speaking Latinos," the authors conclude.

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