Cultural beliefs and mental health treatment preferences of ethnically diverse older adult consumers in primary care

Daniel E. Jimenez, Stephen J. Bartels, Veronica Cardenas, Sanam S. Dhaliwal, Margarita Alegría

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Background: Beliefs concerning the causes of mental illness may help to explain why there are significant disparities in the rates of formal mental health service use among racial/ethnic minority elderly as compared with their white counterparts. This study applies the cultural influences on mental health framework to identify the relationship between race/ethnicity and differences in 1) beliefs on the cause of mental illness, 2) preferences for type of treatment, and 3) provider characteristics. METHOD:: Analyses were conducted using baseline data collected from participants who completed the cultural attitudes toward healthcare and mental illness questionnaire, developed for the Primary Care Research in Substance Abuse and Mental Health for the Elderly study, a multisite randomized trial for older adults (65+) with depression, anxiety, or at-risk alcohol consumption. The final sample consisted of 1,257 non-Latino whites, 536 African Americans, 112 Asian Americans, and 303 Latinos. Results: African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos had differing beliefs regarding the causes of mental illness when compared with non-Latino whites. Race/ethnicity was also associated with determining who makes healthcare decisions, treatment preferences, and preferred characteristics of healthcare providers. Conclusions: This study highlights the association between race/ethnicity and health beliefs, treatment preferences, healthcare decisions, and consumers' preferred characteristics of healthcare providers. Accommodating the values and preferences of individuals can be helpful in engaging racial/ethnic minority patients in mental health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-542
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Mental health beliefs
  • older adults
  • race/ethnicity
  • treatment preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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