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English language proficiency and lifetime mental health service utilization by Asian Americans

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

English language proficiency and lifetime mental health service utilization in a national representative sample of Asian Americans in the USA

Journal of Public Health Advance Access published online on March 3, 2010
Journal of Public Health, doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdq010

Background US Department of Health and Human Services reported that the lack of English language proficiency and the shortage of providers who possessed appropriate language skills were identified as major barriers to mental health service use for approximately half of the population of Asians and Pacific Islanders. The aim of this study was to examine the predictors of lifetime mental health service use in relation to English language proficiency among Asian Americans.

Methods Data from 2095 Asian participants from the National Latino and Asian American Study were analyzed using logistic regression.

Results Respondents with better English language proficiency and with a mental health diagnosis were more inclined to use mental health services. Participants who were born in the USA, who were widowed, separated or divorced, who sought comfort from religion, who reported worse physical and mental health self-ratings were more likely to use mental health services. The lack of health insurance coverage was not a significant predictor.

Conclusions The public health implications for behavioral health include the need to educate health-care providers working with Asian Americans regarding the benefits derived from seeking services and making interpreter services available in a culturally sensitive environment.

Keywords: ethnicity, health services, mental health

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