Disparities in Detection and Treatment History Among Mothers with Major Depression in Los Angeles

Published In: Women's Health Issues, v. 19, no. 4, July-Aug. 2009, p. 232-242

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Beth Ann Griffin, Lindsay Daugherty

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OBJECTIVE: The authors sought to determine disparities in detection and treatment histories among a group of racial and ethnically diverse mothers with major depression. METHOD: Our sample included 276 racially and ethnically diverse mothers who participated in the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey and who were classified with major depression based on the Comprehensive International Diagnostic Interview-Short Form. The authors used logistic regression to assess the association between demographic factors and previous detection with major depression, mental health specialty use, and the use of a primary care physician among these women. The demographic factors examined included race and ethnicity, immigration status, marital status, education, income, body mass index (BMI), maternal age, number of children, children's ages, history of emotional problems, and history of diabetes. RESULTS: Results indicated that 69% of mothers had not been previously detected with major depression nor had they sought mental health treatment in the 12 months before the interview. The odds of having been previously diagnosed with major depression were significantly higher among White and single mothers, as well as among mothers with higher BMIs and those with a history of emotional problems. Nonimmigrant mothers without emotional problems had a higher odds of having seen a mental health specialist in the 12 months before the interview compared with immigrant mothers without emotional problems; no differences in mental health treatment were found between nonimmigrant and immigrant mothers with emotional problems. Finally, African-American mothers and those with a history of diabetes had significantly higher odds of seeing a primary care physician compared with Hispanic mothers and those with no history of diabetes, respectively. CONCLUSION: Our analyses of a population of depressed mothers living in Los Angeles highlight the need for identification and treatment of racial minority and immigrant mothers.

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