A Cross-National Study on Prevalence of Mental Disorders, Service Use, and Adequacy of Treatment Among Mexican and Mexican American Populations

Published in: American Journal of Public Health, v. 103, no. 9, Sep. 2013, p. 1610-1618

Posted on RAND.org on August 08, 2013

by Ricardo Orozco, Guilherme Borges, María Elena Icaza Medina-Mora, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Joshua Breslau

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OBJECTIVES: We examined differences in the use of mental health services, conditional on the presence of psychiatric disorders, across groups of Mexico's population with different US migration exposure and in successive generations of Mexican Americans in the United States. METHODS: We merged surveys conducted in Mexico (Mexican National Comorbidity Survey, 2001–2002) and the United States (Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys, 2001–2003). We compared psychiatric disorders and mental health service use, assessed in both countries with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, across migration groups. RESULTS: The 12-month prevalence of any disorder was more than twice as high among third- and higher generation Mexican Americans (21%) than among Mexicans with no migrant in their family (8%). Among people with a disorder, the odds of receiving any mental health service were higher in the latter group relative to the former (odds ratio = 3.35; 95% confidence interval = 1.82, 6.17) but the age- and gender-adjusted prevalence of untreated disorder was also higher. CONCLUSIONS: Advancing understanding of the specific enabling and dispositional factors that result in increases in mental health care may contribute to reducing service use disparities across ethnic groups in the United States.

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