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Keywords:

  • disparities;
  • depression;
  • primary care;
  • African Americans;
  • Latinos;
  • ethnic minorities

CONTEXT:  Ethnic minorities traditionally receive less care for depression than do white populations; we examine ethnic minority care for depression in a large cross-national primary care sample.

DESIGN:  This is a cross-sectional study of identification and treatment of depression among diverse primary care patients, using self-report of symptoms and care.

SUBJECTS:  One thousand four hundred and ninety-eight depressed primary care patients participating in four large studies of quality improvement for depression care are examined at baseline.

RESULTS:  Primary care providers recommend depression treatments for Latino and African-American patients as frequently as they do for white patients. However, Latino and African-American patients are less likely to take antidepressant medications (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.21 to 0.42 and adjusted OR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.36 to 0.87, respectively) and Latinos are less likely to obtain specialty mental health care (adjusted OR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.36 to 0.75).

CONCLUSIONS:  Primary care providers are now able to recognize depression and recommend treatment for Latino and African-American patients, with this care recommended at equal rates to that of white patients. However, Latino and African-American patients remain less likely to obtain appropriate care, such as antidepressant medications or specialty care. New approaches to improving access to appropriate care for Latino and African-American primary care patients are needed.