Study Finds Differences in Perception of Mental Health Providers’ Cultural Competence

A new study by researchers at Yale University, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and Vanderbilt University finds that patients who identify as racial and ethnic minorities prefer medical providers who share and understand their culture, but those patients are not as likely as others to access providers who can provide such care.

The study involved 3,910 patients who participated in a recent U.S. National Health Interview Survey. Findings suggest that racial and ethnic disparities exist in how patients perceive their providers’ cultural competence. Those disparities are especially pronounced in patients with depression.

The authors say the results highlight the importance of incorporating culturally competent and humble interactions in psychiatric care. “We hope that our paper convinces physicians and other providers to obtain the training in cultural competency necessary to take best care of all patients with anxiety and depression, especially those from racial and ethnic minoritized populations who see this as vital to their care,” said Ayana Jordan, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University and a co-author of the study.

Dr. Jordan said the new study adds to the existing literature by underscoring the importance of taking patient perspectives into account. “We believe that our findings offer a framework for mental health providers to approach delivering better care for patients who identify as racial/ethnic minorities, which will allow for better therapeutic relationships and improve outcomes in psychiatric care,” she said.

Dr. Jordan is a graduate of Hampton University in Virginia. She holds a master’s degree, a medical doctorate, and a Ph.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York.

The full study, “Racial and Ethnic Differences in Perception of Provider Cultural Competence Among Patients With Depression and Anxiety Symptoms: A Retrospective, Population-based, Cross-Sectional Analysis,” was published on the website of The Lancet Psychiatry. It can be accessed here.

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