The aim of this study was to examine whether a more inclusive definition of mental health treatment that incorporates unconventional treatment may partially account for the racial disparity in treatment-seeking behavior.
Using 2005–2007 pooled data (N=102,749) from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship between race (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic) and the type of mental health treatment sought. Treatment types were classified as conventional care (outpatient or inpatient), psychotropic medication, or unconventional treatment. Unconventional treatment was further classified as complementary and alternative medicine or parochial care, defined as treatment that appeals to a specific religious group that is provided at no cost outside a health delivery system.
Compared with whites, blacks had 53% lower odds and Hispanics had 41% lower odds of seeking any type of mental health treatment in the past year. Both blacks and Hispanics were significantly less likely to report use of any single type of conventional or unconventional mental health treatment other than parochial care. Blacks had 60% greater odds and Hispanics had 36% greater odds than whites of using parochial care only.
Although blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to use parochial mental health treatment, accounting for use of this type of unconventional treatment did not explain the racial disparity in treatment-seeking behavior. (Psychiatric Services 63:142–146, 2012; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201100008)