Provider Contributions to Disparities in Mental Health Care

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Psychiatric services


OBJECTIVE: Disparities in diagnosis of mental health problems and in access to treatment among racial-ethnic groups are apparent across different behavioral conditions, particularly in the quality of treatment for depression. This study aimed to determine how much disparities differ across providers.

METHODS: Bayesian mixed-effects models were used to estimate whether disparities in patient adherence to antidepressant medication (N=331,776) or psychotherapy (N=275,095) were associated with specific providers. Models also tested whether providers who achieved greater adherence to treatment, on average, among non-Hispanic white patients than among patients from racial-ethnic minority groups attained lower disparities and whether the percentage of patients from racial-ethnic minority groups in a provider caseload was associated with disparities.

RESULTS: Disparities in adherence to both antidepressant medication and psychotherapy were associated with the provider. Provider performance with non-Hispanic white patients was negatively correlated with provider-specific disparities in adherence to psychotherapy but not to antidepressants. A higher proportion of patients from racial-ethnic minority groups in a provider's caseload was associated with lower adherence among non-Hispanic white patients, lower disparities in adherence to psychotherapy, and greater disparities in adherence to antidepressant medication.

CONCLUSIONS: Adherence to depression treatment among a provider's patients from racial-ethnic minority groups was related to adherence among that provider's non-Hispanic white patients, but evidence also suggested provider-specific disparities. Efforts among providers to decrease disparities might focus on improving the general skill of providers who treat more patients from racial-ethnic minority groups as well as offering culturally based training to providers with notable disparities.

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ePub ahead of print