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Book Reviews   |    
Asian American Mental Health: Assessment Theories and Methods
Reviewed by Russell Lim, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 2003; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.54.8.1175
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edited by Karen S. Kurasaki, Sumie Okazaki, and Stanley Sue; New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2002, 345 pages, $95

This book offers a comprehensive look at the assessment of the mental health of Asian Americans. Asian American Mental Health: Assessment Theories and Methods contains 21 chapters, written by experts in the field of assessment in Asian American mental health and organized into five sections: cultural relevance of diagnostic categories, sociocultural variables, psychometric equivalence across cultures, culturally informed assessment, and conclusions. The book will be most useful to researchers in psychology and psychiatry who wish to use psychometric measures with patients, but it will also be useful to trainees and training directors who need to review the literature on the assessment of Asian Americans as well as to graduate students learning about multicultural issues in assessment.

Asian American Mental Health is a critical review of the literature and arose from a conference held in 1998 that explored the state of the art of the assessment of the mental health of Asian Americans. For the most part, the individual chapters are very good, although a few are uneven and difficult to read. The book assumes a certain degree of familiarity with psychological terms, constructs, and measures. I particularly liked the chapters on DSM-IV—one by Richard H. Dana and another by Keh-Ming Lin and Margaret Lin—which discuss the role of DSM-IV in diagnosis and how the manual is not appropriate for diagnosing psychiatric illnesses among Asian American patients. Also good is a chapter by Nolan Zane and May Yeh on the importance of considering "loss of face."

Other chapters discuss important concepts such as acculturation, self-construal, and cultural orientation. Sections 3 and 4 are useful for understanding how measures that were developed for Western patients need to be adapted for use with Asian Americans, such as personality inventories, concepts of depression, measures of parenting, educational assessment, and cognitive testing, as well as developing new methodologies for use in epidemiologic studies with Asian Americans, using ethnologies with Asian Americans, and developing new measures of cultural competence in counseling and in mental health delivery systems.

Also included are some very practical chapters, such as one describing methods of evaluating Asian American children and another about career counseling with Asian Americans. All the chapters emphasize the need for adapting known methods or developing new ones to accurately assess Asian Americans from many different ethnic backgrounds and levels of acculturation.

I enjoyed Asian American Mental Health very much, as the overall tone is to explain the research that has already been conducted on many topics, to explore the limitations of this research, and to suggest directions for further research. The book's primary usefulness will be as an important reference text for researchers in Asian American mental health and graduate students in counseling and psychology. For a good clinical reference, I would suggest Working With Asian Americans, edited by Evelyn Lee (1).

Dr. Lim is affiliated with the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine.

Lee E (ed): Working With Asian Americans. New York, Guilford, 1997
 
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References

Lee E (ed): Working With Asian Americans. New York, Guilford, 1997
 
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