Barriers to Mental Health Care Utilization for U.S. Cambodian Refugees

Published in: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, v. 74, no. 6, Dec. 2006, p. 1116-1120

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Eunice C. Wong, Grant N. Marshall, Sarah Megan Berthold, Terry L. Schell, Marc N. Elliott, Chi-Ah Chun, Katrin Hambarsoomian

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Asian Americans encounter barriers to mental health care, some of which are structural, whereas others may be cultural. Using data from a probability sample (N = 490) drawn from the largest Cambodian refugee community in the United States, the authors assessed the extent to which structural and cultural barriers were experienced. Surprisingly, a relatively small proportion endorsed commonly cited cultural barriers such as distrust of Western care (4%) and greater confidence in alternative care (5%), whereas most endorsed structural barriers such as high cost (80%) and language (66%). Among those with a probable diagnosis, a similar pattern was found. Findings suggest that structural, not culturally based, barriers are the most critical obstacles to care in this U.S. Cambodian refugee community.

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