Retention in depression treatment among ethnic and racial minority groups in the United States

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; *Depressive Disorder, Major; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Minority Groups; *Retention (Psychology); Treatment Outcome; United States; Young Adult


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


BACKGROUND: Premature discontinuation of psychiatric treatment among ethnic-racial minorities is a persistent concern. Previous research on identifying factors associated with ethnic-racial disparities in depression treatment has been limited by the scarcity of national samples with adequate representation of minority groups and especially non-English speakers. In this article, we aim to identify variations in the likelihood of retention in depression treatment among ethnic-racial minority groups in the United States as compared to non-Latino whites. Second, we aim to identify the factors that are related to treatment retention.

METHODS: We use data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys to examine differences and correlates of depression treatment retention among a representative sample (n=564) of non-Latino whites, Latinos, African-American, and Asian respondents with last 12-month depressive disorder and who report receiving formal mental health treatment in the last year. We define retention as attending at least four visits or remaining in treatment during a 12-month period.

RESULTS: Being seen by a mental health specialist as opposed to being seen by a generalist and having received medication are correlates of treatment retention for the entire sample. However, after adjusting for demographics, clinical factors including number of co-occurring psychiatric disorders and level of disability, African-Americans are significantly less likely to be retained in depression treatment as compared to non-Latino whites.

CONCLUSIONS: Availability of specialized mental health services or comparable treatment within primary care could improve treatment retention. Low retention suggests persistent problems in the delivery of depression treatment for African-Americans.

DOI of Published Version



Depress Anxiety. 2010 May;27(5):485-94. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Depression and anxiety

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID