Associations of physical symptoms with perceived need for and use of mental health services among Latino and Asian Americans.
Social Science & Medicine, 2012
[Epub ahead of print] Associations of physical symptoms with perceived need for and use of mental health services among Latino and Asian Americans.
Abstract Although many believe that low rates of perceived mental health need and service use among racial/ethnic minorities are due, in part, to somatization, data supporting this notion are lacking.
This study examined two hypotheses: (1) increased physical symptoms are associated with lower perceived need for mental health services and actual service use; and (2) physical symptoms are most strongly associated with perceived mental health need and service use among first-generation individuals.
Data come from the National Latino and Asian-American Study, a nationally-representative household survey in the United States conducted from 2002 to 2003.
Perceived mental health need was present for individuals who endorsed having an emotional or substance use problem or thinking they needed treatment for such a problem within the past year.
After adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical covariates, the number of physical symptoms was positively associated with perceived mental health need and service, an effect that differed by generation.
Among first-generation individuals, physical symptoms were associated with increased perceived need and service use.
Physical symptoms were not significantly associated with perceived need or service use among third-generation Latinos, but were associated with service use among third-generation Asian-Americans.
In contrast, individuals, especially of the first-generation, with more physical symptoms were more likely to perceive need for and utilize mental health services.
Our findings do not support the notion that physical symptoms account for low rates of perceived mental health need and service use among Latino and Asian-Americans.