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Culturally sensitive treatment model helps bring depressed Chinese immigrants into treatment
Date:11/18/2010

A treatment model designed to accommodate the beliefs and concerns of Chinese immigrants appears to significantly improve the recognition and treatment of major depression in this typically underserved group. In a report in the December American Journal of Public Health, a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team describes how their model for screening and assessing patients for depression in a primary care setting increased the percentage of depressed patients entering treatment nearly sevenfold.

"Ours is the first study to incorporate a culturally sensitive interview into a collaborative care model in order to address disparities in mental illness treatment among ethnic minorities in primary care," says Albert Yeung, ScD, MD, of the MGH Department of Psychiatry, lead author of the AJPH report. "The model appears to be a promising way to treat this population, which highly underutilizes mental health services."

Yeung and his co-authors note that, while major depression is just as common among Asian Americans as in the overall U.S. population, a lack of familiarity with mental illness and a cultural stigma against psychiatric disorders lead to most cases of depression among Asian Americans going unrecognized and untreated. Language barriers, a tendency to seek medical care for physical symptoms only, and lack of cultural sensitivity among health care providers can further exacerbate the disparity.

To overcome these barriers, the MGH team devised a culturally sensitive collaborative treatment model that incorporates systematic depression screening at all primary care visits, contacting those who screened positive for depression to recommend assessment, and an assessment protocol designed to explore patients' cultural beliefs. Patient who chose to enter treatment received either usual care or care management, which included regular telephone contact with a care manager along with depression treatment by a primar
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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