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Culture can Affect Access to Alcohol, Drug Abuse Treatment for Rural Youth
Date:10/30/2007

New study uncovers common stereotypes among clinicians

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cultural stereotypes about Hispanics could impede Latino youth from seeking help for drug and alcohol abuse. In turn, substance-abuse treatment providers must better understand how their own attitudes toward culture can affect the provision of sufficient behavioral health services, according to a new study. To do this, providers must first assess their own notions of culture and address any hidden biases.

The study obtained first-hand information from practitioners to propose the development of culturally relevant, quality care for rural adolescent populations that have limited access to behavioral health care. Researchers with the PIRE Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest and the University of Montana found four commonly held cultural stereotypes that health care providers' believed inhibited Hispanic youth from seeking help for substance abuse - family, religion and spirituality, gender roles and socioeconomic factors.

"By just focusing on those factors, even the best-intentioned prevention and treatment models will result in a simplistic response to the complex social, political and economic realities that create health disparities among ethnic minority populations," said Dr. Cathleen Willging, Ph.D., primary investigator on the study. "This often results in many communities viewing mainstream health and human service institutions with suspicion. Although social stigmas associated with behavioral health problems no doubt influence how some Hispanic families seek help, it is important to note the role that a history of discrimination and racism plays in such a process."

Researchers interviewed 42 behavioral-health providers over a three- month period in 2005. Study participants included drug and alcohol counselors, mental health therapists, nurses and physicians, and prevention specialists in four counties in
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SOURCE Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
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