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1.  Mental Health Treatment Seeking Among Older Adults with Depression: The Impact of Stigma and Race 
Stigma associated with mental illness continues to be a significant barrier to help seeking, leading to negative attitudes about mental health treatment and deterring individuals who need services from seeking care. This study examined the impact of public stigma (negative attitudes held by the public) and internalized stigma (negative attitudes held by stigmatized individuals about themselves) on racial differences in treatment seeking attitudes and behaviors among older adults with depression.
Random digit dialing was utilized to identify a representative sample of 248 African American and White adults older adults (over the age of 60) with depression (symptoms assessed via the Patient Health Questionnaire-9). Telephone based surveys were conducted to assess their treatment seeking attitudes and behaviors, and the factors that impacted these behaviors.
Depressed older adult participants endorsed a high level of public stigma and were not likely to be currently engaged in, nor did they intend to seek mental health treatment. Results also suggested that African American older adults were more likely to internalize stigma and endorsed less positive attitudes toward seeking mental health treatment than their White counterparts. Multiple regression analysis indicated that internalized stigma partially mediated the relationship between race and attitudes toward treatment.
Stigma associated with having a mental illness has a negative influence on attitudes and intentions toward seeking mental health services among older adults with depression, particularly African American elders. Interventions to target internalized stigma are needed to help engage this population in psychosocial mental health treatments.
PMCID: PMC2875324  PMID: 20220602
Stigma; Depression; Treatment; Aging
2.  Enhancing the Cultural Relevance of Empirically-Supported Mental Health Interventions 
Evidence-based practice (EBP) has become a hot topic in clinical social work and other mental health disciplines. Mental health professionals have called attention to the need for clinical decision-making to be based on the best available empirically supported treatments integrated with client preferences, values, and circumstances. This movement has greatly stimulated mental health professionals to develop, test, and adopt efficacious treatments for clients with psychological problems, but what is missing in the literature is the cultural context in which these treatments must be implemented to be effective with racial/ethnic minority populations. Herein, we utilize the culturally centered framework of Bernal, Bonilla and Bellido (1995) to examine its utility in assessing to what extent empirically supported mental health treatments incorporate culturally relevant components.
PMCID: PMC3100634  PMID: 21617746
3.  Differences in Treatment Attitudes Between Depressed African-American and Caucasian Veterans in Primary Care 
Depressive disorders are common, and it is important to understand the factors that contribute to racial disparities in depression treatment. This primary care study of veterans with subsyndromal depression examined two hypotheses: that African Americans would be less likely than Caucasians to believe that medication is beneficial in depression treatment and would be more likely to believe that counseling or psychotherapy is beneficial.
Primary care patients with subsyndromal depression were referred to the Philadelphia Department of Veterans Affairs Behavioral Health Laboratory and asked about past experiences and attitudes toward depression treatment.
Among 111 African-American and 95 Caucasian participants, logistic regression analyses determined that African Americans were less likely to view medication as beneficial (odds ratio=.44). No racial differences were found in participants’ attitude toward counseling or psychotherapy.
The findings support the premise that clinicians treating patients with subsyndromal depressive syndromes should take into account racial differences in attitudes toward treatment.
PMCID: PMC3089655  PMID: 21459996
4.  Barriers to treatment and culturally endorsed coping strategies among depressed African-American older adults 
Aging & mental health  2010;14(8):971-983.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to the effects of depression, however, they are less likely to seek and engage in mental health treatment. African-American older adults are even less likely than their White counterparts to seek and engage in mental health treatment. This qualitative study examined the experience of being depressed among African-American elders and their perceptions of barriers confronted when contemplating seeking mental health services. In addition, we examined how coping strategies are utilized by African-American elders who choose not to seek professional mental health services.
A total of 37 interviews were conducted with African-American elders endorsing at least mild symptoms of depression. Interviews were audiotaped and subsequently transcribed. Content analysis was utilized to analyze the qualitative data.
Thematic analysis of the interviews with African-American older adults is presented within three areas: (1) Beliefs about Depression Among Older African-Americans: (2) Barriers to Seeking Treatment for Older African-Americans: and (3) Cultural Coping Strategies for Depressed African-American Older Adults.
Older African-Americans in this study identified a number of experiences living in the Black community that impacted their treatment seeking attitudes and behaviors. which led to identification and utilization of more culturally endorsed coping strategies to deal with their depression. Findings from this study provide a greater understanding of the stigma associated with having a mental illness and its influence on attitudes toward mental health services.
PMCID: PMC3060025  PMID: 21069603
depression; beliefs/attitudes; health service use; stigma; aging
5.  Attitudes and beliefs about mental health among African American older adults suffering from depression 
Journal of aging studies  2010;24(4):266-277.
Depression among older adults is a major public health concern leading to increased disability and mortality. Less than 3% of older adults utilize professional mental health services for the treatment of depression, less than any other adult age group. And despite similar rates of depression, African Americans are significantly less likely to seek, engage and be retained in professional mental health services than their white counterparts. Cultural differences in the way depression symptoms are manifested, defined, interpreted and labeled may in part explain some of these racial differences in help-seeking behaviors. Focus group methodology was utilized to identify and explore attitudes and beliefs about depression and mental health treatment utilization among 42 older African Americans who had recently suffered a major depressive episode. Thematic analysis of identified six overarching themes: (a) perceptions of depression, (b) the African American experience, (c) seeking treatment as a last resort, (d) myths about treatment, (e) stigma associated with seeking treatment and (f) culturally appropriate coping strategies. We discuss implications for practice, education and research.
PMCID: PMC3060786  PMID: 21423819
Aging; Depression; Stigma; Treatment
Journal of community psychology  2010;38(3):350-368.
This study examined the relationship between internalized and public stigma on treatment-related attitudes and behaviors in a community sample of 449 African American and white adults aged 18 years and older. Telephone surveys were administered to assess level of depressive symptoms, demographic characteristics, stigma, and treatment-related attitudes and behaviors. Multiple regression analysis indicated that internalized stigma mediated the relationship between public stigma and attitudes toward mental health treatment. Within group analyses indicated that the mediating effect of internalized stigma was significant for whites only. Among African Americans, internalized stigma did not mediate public stigma; it was directly related to attitudes toward mental health treatment. The internalization of stigma is key in the development of negative attitudes toward mental health treatment, and future research should focus on this aspect of stigma in both individual and community-based efforts to reduce stigma.
PMCID: PMC3026177  PMID: 21274407
7.  Diagnostic Labels, Stigma, and Participation in Research Related to Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Health care professionals use diagnostic labels to classify individuals for both treatment and research purposes. Despite their clear benefits, diagnostic labels also serve as cues that activate stigma and stereotypes. Stigma associated with the diagnostic labels of dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can have a significant and negative impact on interpersonal relationships, interactions with the health care community, attitudes about service utilization, and participation in clinical research. The impact of stigma also extends to the family caregivers of individuals bearing such labels. In this article, we use examples from our investigations of individuals with dementia or MCI and their family caregivers to examine the impact of labeling and stigma on clinical research participation. We also discuss how stigma can affect numerous aspects of the nursing research process. Strategies are presented for addressing stigma-related barriers to participation in clinical research on dementia and MCI.
PMCID: PMC2864081  PMID: 20077972

Results 1-7 (7)