PTSD in Latino Patients
Illness Beliefs, Treatment Preferences, and Implications for Care
Published in: Journal of General Internal Medicine, v. 23, no. 9, Sep. 2008, p. 1386-1392
Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007
BACKGROUND: Little is known about how Latinos with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) understand their illness and their preferences for mental health treatment. OBJECTIVE: To understand the illness beliefs and treatment preferences of Latino immigrants with PTSD. DESIGN: Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. PARTICIPANTS: Sixty foreign-born, Latino adults recruited from five primary care centers in New York and New Jersey and screened for PTSD. APPROACH: Content analytic methods identified common themes, their range, and most frequent or typical responses. RESULTS: Participants identified their primary feelings as sadness, anxiety, nervousness, and fear. The most common feeling was sad (triste). Other words frequently volunteered were angry (enojada), nervous (nerviosa), and scared (miedo). Participants viewed their PTSD as impairing health and functioning. They ascribed their somatic symptoms and their general medical problems to the stress from the trauma and its consequences on their lives. The most common reason participants volunteered for their work and school functioning being impaired was their poor concentration, often due to intrusive thoughts. Most expressed their desire to receive mental health treatment, to receive it within their primary care center, and preferred psychotherapy over psychotropic medications. Among participants who did not report wanting treatment, most said it was because the trauma was in the past. CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians may consider enquiring about PTSD in Latino patients who report feeling sad, anxious, nervous, or fearful. Our study suggests topics clinicians may include in the psychoeducation of patients with PTSD.