Rutgers University Study Finds Racial Differences in the Treatment of Depression

A study by researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey has found that African-American senior citizens are significantly less likely than older Whites to be diagnosed and treated for depression. The study, to be published in the February edition of the American Journal of Public Health, examined the records of more than 33,000 Medicare patients in the years 2001 to 2005. The results showed that 6.4 percent of older Whites were diagnosed with depression compared to just over 4 percent of African-American seniors.

Economics may be one factor as Whites are more likely to be on private insurance plans that provide better coverage for anti-depressant drugs. Also, the authors speculate that due to cultural stigma, African American seniors may be less likely to admit being depressed.

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  1. Thank you researchers at Rutgers for this timely publication. I am concerned though that the results are followed by speculation and do not include more definitive information regarding the cultural attitudes of most providers including physicians and the issue of racial disparity in health care in general and behavioral health care in specifics.

    Jacquelyn D. Stanton, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

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