The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in the Depression Care of African Americans and Hispanics in Los Angeles

Published in: Psychiatric Services, Volume 68, Issue 4, April 01, 2017, pp. 368-374. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201500318

Posted on RAND.org on November 29, 2016

by Michelle Dalencour, Eunice C. Wong, Lingqi Tang, Elizabeth L. Dixon, Aziza Lucas-Wright, Kenneth B. Wells, Jeanne Miranda

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Research Questions

  1. What role do faith-based organizations play in providing community-based depression care?
  2. What types of services do they provide, and to whom?

OBJECTIVE: This study examined use of depression care provided by faith-based organizations (FBOs) by African Americans and Hispanics and factors associated with the receipt of such care, including mental illness severity and use of traditional mental health services. METHODS: The study used baseline data from the Community Partners in Care study, a group-randomized trial comparing a community-partnered approach with a technical-assistance approach to improving depression care in underresourced communities in Los Angeles. A sample of 947 individuals (48% African American, 27% non–U.S.-born Hispanic, 15% U.S.-born Hispanic, and 10% non-Hispanic white) were surveyed about recent visits to a religious or spiritual place and receipt of FBO depression care. Descriptive analyses compared racial-ethnic, sociodemographic, and health service use variables for three groups: those who did not attend a religious place, those who attended a religious place and did not receive FBO depression services, and those who received FBO depression services. Multinomial logistic regression was used to identify predictors of receipt of FBO depression care. RESULTS: A larger proportion of African Americans and non–U.S.-born Hispanics received FBO faith-based depression services compared with non-Hispanic whites and with U.S.-born Hispanics. Receipt of FBO depression services was associated with younger age, lifetime diagnosis of mania, use of primary care depression services, and receipt of a mental health service from a substance abuse agency. CONCLUSIONS: FBO depression services were used in the community, especially by persons from racial-ethnic minority groups. Collaborative efforts between FBOs and traditional health services may increase access to depression services for African Americans and Latinos.

Key Findings

  • Almost one-quarter of African American and Hispanic participants reported receiving depression care from faith-based organizations (FBOs).
  • Among those receiving FBO services, about one-third reported receiving encouragement to maintain their treatment plan, medications, and specialist visits.
  • Participants who used FBO services were more likely to have higher mental health needs, such as a recent major depressive episode or a past hospitalization for psychosis.
  • Younger participants were more likely to use FBO services than other study participants.

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