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Racial/ethnic identity and amount and type of psychiatric treatment
Am J Psychiatry 1992;149:379-384.
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of racial/ethnic identity to the amount and type of psychiatric treatment received by white, black, Latino, and Asian patients in the Los Angeles County mental health system. METHOD: The patients studied (N = 19,400) consisted of all adult inpatients and outpatients seen in all county mental health facilities between January 1983 and August 1988. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the relationship between race/ethnicity and four measures of treatment received: number of treatment sessions, treatment modality, treatment setting, and therapist's discipline. The covariates included in the analyses were age, sex, socioeconomic status, primary language, diagnosis, and measures of treatment when these were logical predictors and were not acting as dependent variables. RESULTS: Race/ethnicity did not have a consistent significant relationship to the treatment variables studied. However, diagnosis had a consistent and highly significant relationship to all four measures of treatment. A psychotic diagnosis was related to receiving more treatment sessions, greater use of medication, greater use of inpatient treatment, and less treatment by a professional therapist. Socioeconomic status and primary language also had consistent and significant relationships to three of the treatment variables. CONCLUSIONS: In considering modifications to the service delivery system, clinicians must evaluate whether the type of treatment provided to psychotic patients is the treatment of choice in terms of effectiveness and efficiency or whether it involves bias in service delivery. Similarly, the issue of bias in treatment of lower socioeconomic patients must be addressed.

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