Stigmatizing attitudes toward mental illness among racial/ethnic older adults in primary care

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Objective The current study applies the perceived stigma framework to identify differences in attitudes toward mental health and mental health treatment among various racial/ethnic minority older adults with common mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, or at-risk alcohol use. Specifically, this study examines to what extent race/ethnicity is associated with differences in (1) perceived stigma of mental illness and (2) perceived stigma for different mental health treatment options. Methods Analyses were conducted using baseline data collected from participants who completed the SAMHSA Mental Health and Alcohol Abuse Stigma Assessment, developed for the PRISM-E (Primary Care Research in Substance Abuse and Mental Health for the Elderly) study, a multisite randomized trial for older adults (65+ years) with depression, anxiety, or at-risk alcohol consumption. The final sample consisted of 1247 non-Latino Whites, 536 African-Americans, 112 Asian-Americans, and 303 Latinos. Results African-Americans and Latinos expressed greater comfort in speaking to primary care physicians or mental health professionals concerning mental illness compared with non-Latino Whites. Asian-Americans and Latinos expressed greater shame and embarrassment about having a mental illness than non-Latino Whites. Asian-Americans expressed greater difficulty in seeking or engaging in mental health treatment. Conclusions Racial/ethnic differences exist among older adults with mental illness with respect to stigmatizing attitudes toward mental illness and mental health treatment. Results of this study could help researchers and clinicians educate racial/ethnic minority older adults about mental illness and engage them in much needed mental health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1068
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • older adults
  • race/ethnicity
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Stigmatizing attitudes toward mental illness among racial/ethnic older adults in primary care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this