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Response rates to antidepressants differ among English- and Spanish-speaking Hispanics

TORRANCE (Nov. 4, 2008) In the first-ever study of its kind, a team led by researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) report in November's Psychiatric Services journal that Spanish-speaking Hispanics took longer to respond to medication for depression and were less likely to go into remission than English-speaking Hispanics.

Using data from the nation's largest real-world clinical study of depression, the researchers found the Spanish-speaking participants in the study were older and were more likely to be women than the English speakers. The Spanish speakers also had less education and lower income, more medical issues and were more likely than English speakers to be seen in primary care than psychiatric clinics.

"Once we adjusted for these differences in their socioeconomic status, both groups responded about the same to medication for depression," said Ira Lesser, M.D., a LA BioMed investigator who authored the report. "These results are important for clinicians and patients to be aware that Spanish-speaking Hispanics with depression who come from lower social economic groups may need more than medication for depression."

Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the study surveyed the treatment records of 195 Spanish-speaking and English-speaking Hispanics who had sought care at the Los Angeles and San Diego sites from among the more than 4,000 patients who participated in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, the nation's largest real-world study of depression.

"Hispanics are the nation's largest ethnic minority and its fastest-growing population group," said Dr. Lesser. "As clinicians ourselves, we always are seeking information on the best treatments for our patients, taking into account the differences among them."

Hispanics comprise about 15% of the U.S. population, and 40% are born outside the country. In the 2000 Census, 32% of Hispanic respondents who said they spoke Spanish at home also said they spoke English "not well" or "not at all." Depression is the nation's most prevalent psychiatric disorder, with approximately 16 out of 100 Americans suffering from it at some point in their lives.


Contact: Laura Mecoy
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)

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